Wednesday, 22 June 2016
Children of Men (2006)
The year is 2027, and there has not been a child born in 18 years.
In this movie, I mean. Obviously in the real world as I am typing this it is 2016 and women are popping out babies just fine.
In any case, in this alternate 2027 things are pretty grim. A global flu pandemic took many lives in 2008 - including the young son of our main character - and shortly thereafter global birthrates took a nosedive to zero.
Now obviously this is a fairly extreme and unlikely premise, and its unlikely that a plausible explanation for the phenomenon could be offered. So it is good to see the script take a leaf out of George Romero's playbook and make no attempt to explain how the global infertility came about. Characters discuss it of course, but they don't have any answers.
Our main character is Theo, who used to be a political firebrand but has become something of a broken man by the death of his son. He is contacted by his former lover, who now heads up an anti-government organisation known as "The Fishes". You see, the UK government has taken to forcing all non-British citizens into work camps. Why they're doing this is never really clearly explained, but UKIP is a thing, and people do weird things even when they're not part of a slow-burning apocalypse.
But the inevitable death of humanity may not be so inevitable after all. Theo's ex has found a young woman who is pregnant: the first since 2009. She wants his help to get this woman to a research group called "The Human Project". Theo's reluctant to get involved, but we all know he is going to say yes in the end. There wouldn't be much of a movie if he didn't. And for much the same reason, this isn't going to be an easy task.
This is not a cheerful film, nor a flawless one. There are some moments in the script where I was prompted to mutter "that's a bit contrived". But it's also a film with strong performances, a few genuine moments of surprise, and some very nicely executed exposition: it's rare to see the "let's do some world-building" conversations in a film actually feel so much like natural conversations between the characters involved.