Humanity is on the brink of extinction in Children Of Men. Alfonso Cuarón paints an arrestingly grim portrait of Britain thrown into anarchy in 2027, but the script (based on PD James' novel) is also plagued by disorder. Paranoia about illegal immigration and references to Islamic terrorism sit uncomfortably with the plot's central crisis of infertility. The real power is in the simple contrast of despair and hope, the latter embodied in a pregnant woman who seeks protection from a typically world-weary Clive Owen.
No explanation is offered for the scourge of infertility that is leading humankind into oblivion. It will frustrate some viewers, but the sense of disorientation enhances the chaos which Cuarón presents in stark and powerful images of people in cages and rubble-filled streets. While the world goes to hell, Owen plays Theo with eyes wide shut. He has a tragic past but his plight feels remote until hope presents itself in the form of Kee (Clare-Hope Ashitey) and her unborn child.
"GAPS IN LOGIC"
Suddenly the story moves up gear with terrorists pursuing Kee to further their own aims. Unfortunately the script is hazy on the details, vaguely relating their agenda to the shocking treatment of illegal immigrants who flock to Britain despite its fascistic regime. The confusion of political messages and gaps in logic threaten to put the brakes on everything. But Cuarón has enough flair for action to keep the chase involving and shows as much sensitivity with Theo's spiritual re-awakening. A scene where guns are silenced by the sound of a crying baby cuts straight to the heart of the matter and lingers afterwards. Like the film on the whole, the surrounding noise can be distracting, but there are deeper truths that strike a chord.