Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Children of Men (some mild spoilers)

Holly and I were lounging about on New Year's Day, when she suggested we go see a movie. We narrowed it down to Children of Men and The Good Shepard. The Good Shepard was listed as almost 3 hours long, which seemed more of a movie commitment than we were prepared for that day, so we opted for Children of Men.

I knew that it was set in near-future Britain, and that the basic premise was that worldwide infertility had left mankind childless for 19 years. The 'youngest person alive' has just been the victim of a celebrity murder at age 18. The story follows Theo Farron, a former radical who's turned his back on the revolution to become a disinterested government worker in a Britain which is the last western power to resist total collapse. To support their island paradise, the British government has instituted a massive and brutal campaign to remove all illegal immigrants and non-British refugees. Britain is determined to live out her last days in prosperity, and will not share that with Poles, Frenchmen, Germans, Russians, Africans, Americans, or anyone else. If you're not British, you are ruthlessly hunted down, and thrown into concentration camps, where you may be deported if you're lucky.

Then Theo's old underground contacts get in touch with him. They need his goverment contacts to get transit papers for one person to get to the coast. He agrees - for the right sum of cash. Immediately, plans begin to fall apart, and he's got to escort a young girl, secretly pregnant with the first child in two decades, to a rendezvous with a shadowy organization rumored to be working to restore human fertility. They're being sought after by the government and their former comrades in the underground.

The sci-fi elements of the movie are understated, but the pacing and tone are kept up brilliantly. There are some ham-handed allusions to the current Iraq war and to Abu Ghraib, but they are forgivable. The final act of the film is very powerful, and not for the faint of heart. Without giving away too much of the ending, I will say that there are several scenes of brutal violence, and the tension builds right to the very end of the film.

There were several collective gasps from the packed house that I saw it in. While we were waiting in line to get into the film, the previous screening was released, and several people in that group were visibly crying as they left. Our group was no different. One filmgoer who was walking in front of us leaving the theater had been to see A Night at the Museum before coming to this film. His companion remarked, "Wow, that has to be one hellofa contrast." He allowed as how he wished he'd done it in reverse order, as he could do with something light after Children of Men. Holly and I agreed.

Highly recomended.