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CHILDREN OF MEN, 2006
Cast: Clive Owen, Julianne Moore, Michael Caine, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Danny Huston
Britain 2027. The world seems doomed as no children have been born for 18 years, but ex-political activist Theo (Clive Owen) doesn’t care anymore. However, when his beautiful ex-partner and mouth of his late child Julian (Julianne Moore) comes back into his life he shows interest. Julian needs Theo to escort a young refugee lady, Kee (Clare-Hope Ashitey), to the coast and help her escape the hard line governments grasp, but Julian is killed at the start of the journey. Theo loses his interest until he realizes the truth of the matter – Kee is pregnant and he risks life and limb to get her out.
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“No children. No future. No hope.”
Britain 2027. The world has reached a dark point. With no children being born for 18 years the future of mankind looks grim. Political activists fight with the hard-line British government and all refugees are hunted, locked up and then deported. Along the coasts of the UK are large villages of foreigners struggling to survive the poor conditions before they are shipped out. This is the world Theo (Clive Owen) has come to know. A former political activist himself he has lost his fight for justice and continues on with life regardless. Until Julian (Julianne Moore) comes back into his life.
Bundled into a van with a bag over his head by the Fishes, Julian’s group of political activists, he is taken to meet his ex after 20 years. Theo’s ex-partner and the mother to the child they lost, Julian, wants Theo to help in her continual fight for justice against the system. Julian needs transit papers for a young girl and states that Theo could arrange for such things form his politically connected cousin. Theo refuses without remorse, despite the offer of money.
Theo heads to see his cousin, Nigel (Danny Huston), in a chauffeur driven car through a part of London that is still beautiful, but hides behind guarded walls. Whilst drinking fine wine and listening to classical music over a nice meal Theo barters with his cousin for transit papers to get to the coast. Theo gets word to Julian’s people that he can get the papers, but they are for him and another so he would have to go too. For more money of course.
Theo meets with Julian again and they argue over their shared grief, but he clearly still carries a torch for her. His introduction to the young, female refugee he will be escorting, Kee (Clare-Hope Ashitey), leads to old memories being rekindled with Julian and they get on like a house on fire. That is until they are ambushed on the road and Julian takes a bullet to the throat.
After burying Julian’s body they continue on their journey to a safe house in the country. From there it was the plan that Theo and Kee would go alone. Without Julian Theo shows no interest in continuing until Kee requests meeting Theo in the barn the realisation of what he has been asked to do dawns on him – Kee is pregnant! Theo overhears the Fishes discussing that they were the ones who killed Julian and Theo is next and so he needs to get Kee out. Now!
Theo, Kee and Miriam (Pam Ferris) make their escape. They arrive at Theo’s old friends hideout in the woods. Jasper (Michael Caine) welcomes them into his home and they discuss what to do. A boat disguised as a hospital ship will be off the British coast in a few days and can take them to the Human Project where Kee will be safe. But, is the Human Project real? The prophetic Jasper discusses Theo and Julian with the others and how faith brought them together, but chance tore them apart.
When the activists are seen entering Jasper’s grounds by the CCTV Theo, Kee and Miriam make their escape once again. But, not before witnessing the death of Jasper. As instructed they head to meet Jasper’s military friend, Syd (Peter Mullen) who gets them into Bexhill refugee camp, from there they can get to the boat. They lose Miriam before they can get there, taken off the bus by the military.
Once inside the squalid camp Theo and Kee search for shelter amongst the slums, fires, rubbish and misery. Once hidden away in a dirty room Theo delivers Kee’s baby. Syd returns in the morning in civil clothing to find Kee cradling her baby. At gunpoint he marches them out of the building with the view of getting a big reward form the police or Fishes, both looking for Theo and Kee. After escaping from Syd Theo and Kee attempt to make it across Bexhill and find a boat so they can escape and meet the Human Project. Bexhill is rife with guns, gunfire and terrorists. Taken to a relative safe house within the camp and introduced to a head organization within the camp they arrange to get out, but things don’t quite work out.
The Fishes find Theo and Kee. As she is taken the Fishes attempt to kill Theo, but the beginning of the uprising thwarts them. Activists within the camp begin a bloody gunfight with the military and there is war on the streets. Theo has to avoid the gunfire and get to Kee before it’s too late. Following her scream Theo finds her in an office building being bombarded with gunfire and shells. As the last of the Fishes is killed by gunfire Theo gets to Kee. However, now the babies crying have alerted those hiding out in the building. As they make their way out people stop in amazement. One activist with a gun stops and lets them pass. Then the military stop their advancement up the stairs as Theo, Kee and the baby make their way down. Peace and quiet. No gunfire. The entire military waiting outside of the building armed and in tanks stop. Some thank the lord. Others watch open-mouthed.
An exploding shell shatters the peace and war re-commences. Theo and Kee get away in a tiny rowing boat. Theo rows into the misty sea until they reach the buoy at which the Human Project is meant to meet them. Both seem fine, but the boat is full of blood. Theo has been shot. He comforts Kee, but is fading. Theo shows her how to wind her child, before she vows to name the baby Dylan – after Julian and Theo’s child. Then… Theo slips away, just as the boat comes through the mist.
Alfonso Cuarón’s Oscar nominated film, Children of Men, is a brilliant piece of cinema full of beautiful human acts of kindness, destructive acts of fear and some very poignant moments. A stark reminder to how we now live and what could become of us if social decline escalates us into such dark territory. The film smacks of warnings and horrific possibilities in a not too distant future and makes them possibilities so unnerving with its fantastic cinematography and art design. The film’s world looks not too different from our own and was praised by critics. The performances are commendable also with no weak links apparent and every member pulling their weight. Children of Men is an excellent example of how filmmaking can be so poignant without preaching. How film can imitate life, but warn of our future. How film can entertain and also invigorate thought. Children of Men is an excellent example of the potential of British filmmaking.