There’s a line that ends a David Eddings book that I really like. It goes something like this.
“And so they went to see that thing which, though it is an everyday miracle, is a miracle nonetheless.”
But what would happen if that miracle stopped?
London, 2027. A city of dirt, rubbish, and blank eyes. Policemen stand on every corner. Billboards advertise suicide pills. Illegal immigrants are sent to a walled-in ghetto on the coast. Bombs explode in cafes. Elsewhere in the world, it is supposedly even worse.
It is a world in despair, because no child has been born in more than 18 years.
Theo Faron (Clive Owen) is like most people. He is slowly stumbling towards extinction, without knowing why. The only bright spot in his life is his friendship with Jasper, a political cartoonist turned dope grower (Michael Caine). That is, until Julian (Julianne Moore), an old flame who has become a rebel leader, reappears. She introduces him to Kee (Claire-Hope Ashitey), who shows him miracles can still happen.
It is up to Theo to protect the only pregnant woman in the world.
There’s a lot of minor imperfections in Children of Men. Some weak acting from the minor actors, some wooden lines, some clunky lurches in plot. But these are overwhelmed by the sheer power of two things – the concept (Lord of the Flies in reverse) and the atmosphere.
A bleak pall hangs over the whole movie, an air of decay and encroaching anarchy. It’s a backdrop created by the unbroken sense of realism. Here and there are touches of technology, such as the electric cars, to remind you this is the future, but everything is touched with grime. Violence is common, and is brutally realistic – wait for a battle scene that is something out of the Gaza Strip.
Against this desolate backdrop, the one hope there is shines all the brighter.
Of course, the quality of Children of Men’s production design wouldn’t mean much without the strong acting by Owen, Caine, Moore, Ashtiley and most of the others playing the main characters. They and director Alfonso Cuaron can take a bow – this is a damn fine film.