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Children of Men

I watched Children of Men yesterday, which makes me late to the discussion, but that's alright, because I like to have the final word about these kind of things.

Children of Men is a film set in the near future where, after an unexplained infertility hits the human population in 2009, the world sinks into a segregation and violence as an ever aging population realises that it will be the last generation on the face of the planet. At least, in part. The film itself doesn't actually engage in those concepts, but rather focuses on the segregation and racism that has given rise to the detention camps and general bad treatment of illegal immigrants. It is, from the outset, a rather odd pairing of issues that the film seeks to explore, and it never does either justice. The latter gets more play within the script when the first woman to fall pregnant is a young, illegal immigrant who has been working as a prostitute, and an activist group seek to get her to the Human Project, an unexplained concept that one is forced to detail through the title, and which one assumes is interested in the future of humanity, the birth of new children, and perhaps the return of David Bowie's early work.

For the most part, the film is a shambling, but interesting mess. Clive Owen presents a jaded, ex-activist who has become disillusioned with the world after his child died, forcing a split between him and his then wife, Julian, played by Julianne Moore. She has him kidnapped one day and bought into the play to escort the first pregnant woman in over eighteen years to the Human Project. Around them is Chiwetel Ejiofor, who plays Luke, the right hand man of Moore's character, and Michael Caine, who plays Jasper, an elderly pot salesman living in a secluded place within the bush. The latter is also looking after his wife, who one assumes has gone into a catatonic state of shock after the death of Own and Moore's child, and the infertility of the world (EDIT: or because she was tortured). The pregnant girl is played Clare-Hope Ashitey, and Pam Ferris plays Miriam, the mid-wife who is assigned to her, and that ends my run down of people worth knowing in the film. It won't shock you to learn that there are the usual betrayals, deaths, and so on as Ashitey's Kee is rushed to the Human Project.

I think what sits wrong with me in the film is the two thematic pieces. Overall, director Alfonso Cuaron (with the thing over the 'o' in Cuaron) presents a decently paced, and worked film. He builds a society sitting on the edge of hysteria nicely, and I thought he referenced the Gaza Strip nicely within the detention camp that the characters end up on at the end (though this just might have been my reference, and not intentional). But, with that said, there's not enough in the script, and he seems interested in something that is not central to the idea that powers the narrative of the film. There were constant moments within it that I wanted to see things questioned. For example, animals were still having babies. How was that possible? Why was the infertility limited to humans? There was, I thought, a bit of an unfortunate hint that it was women who were infertile, but that may have just been because of the fact that it was a woman who fell pregnant within the narrative. I would still have liked to see it addressed, however, and explored; and I would have liked to have seen the immigration issues linked to this lack of new children, too. The question that I kept asking in my head was, with the ever ageing and dying population, was why there were such population/immigration issues? Would not the world's population have been shrinking rapidly, and thus leaving space? And would not all young people become these things to be cherished and pampered, raising them to an even more prominent status in our society than already exists? (When the film began, I actually thought it was going to make a commentary on the way that youth has become a commodity, and that your growing age sees you diminish just not in attractiveness, but use, potential, and marketability.)

With none of these issues properly addressed within the film, I did try to get into the immigration issues that the film raised, and I could see a lot in it that I could reference to the australian government's treatment of illegal immigrants, but again, after seeing it, I found myself wondering what it planned to do with the concept?

The answer wasn't much.

Still, I enjoyed it, even if the scene in which Theo and Kee walk out of the building with a baby and everyone stands there in awe, having stopped shooting and bombing, was really ridiculous.

(crossposted)

Comments

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shadowsandice
Apr. 14th, 2009 07:16 am (UTC)
Herrm, that's a bummer. I haven't seen it yet. I'm so late to parties, I don't even turn up.
benpeek
Apr. 14th, 2009 02:26 pm (UTC)
it's not a bad film, honestly. i just kind've wished it did more.
shadowsandice
Apr. 14th, 2009 02:33 pm (UTC)
Yes, well, now I know it doesn't do more, and isn't the masterpiece I was led to believe it was. Not as likely to chase down something that sounds so damn depressing now.
benpeek
Apr. 14th, 2009 02:34 pm (UTC)
who was telling you it was a masterpiece?
shadowsandice
Apr. 14th, 2009 02:35 pm (UTC)
Hell, I dunno, dun remember. People. Around the place. You know, them.
ext_181163
Apr. 14th, 2009 10:05 am (UTC)
It's been a while since I've seen it but I recall some vague hints that the UK was one of the last places with pockets of "civilization" while most of the rest of the world went into a Hobbsian state of nature; hence the refugees.

In any case there certainly wasn't much in the script. Although the unexplained nature of the crises and the Human Project didn't bother me I would've liked a more detailed exploration of the world as it was.
benpeek
Apr. 14th, 2009 02:28 pm (UTC)
yeah, i agree with you there.
ironed_orchid
Apr. 14th, 2009 12:06 pm (UTC)
I liked that there wasn't a lot of explanation and exposition.
benpeek
Apr. 14th, 2009 02:27 pm (UTC)
i didn't so much as want that as i wanted them to explore the ideas in the film, i guess. it just seemed a waste to me to have this premise of infertility, and then just kind've go somewhere else to play...
(Anonymous)
Apr. 14th, 2009 07:40 pm (UTC)
CoM
What I learn from these movies where the world is about to fall apart is that I should consider moving to the UK. They always seem to keep their shit together for the longest amount of time. Staying in America? Hell, I'll be eaten by religious zealots!

It's been awhile since I've seen the movie and I did like a couple of the ideas. What would happen if we no longer produced offspring? While personally I would rejoice at the increased pleasantness of eating out and basically being about in the world. Following the idea to it's logical end point would be the end of the world. Would we go nuts with beautifully packaged suicide? Would we press science to create more babies?

I thought the immigration thing was less about immigration and more about the first thing people tend to do when it all goes to hell. Blame the outsiders.

E - please don't delete me. I may live near the birthplace of spam but my comment is not (well I guess that's debatable).
benpeek
Apr. 15th, 2009 10:10 am (UTC)
Re: CoM
nah, it's mostly on the other blog that the spam comes. i dunno why. there's heaps of it there.

anyhow, i suppose you're right about the immigration thing. i suspect i just really wanted the film to be something else for me, and that most of my disatisfaction from it comes from that.
(Anonymous)
Apr. 16th, 2009 12:36 am (UTC)
Re: CoM
It's kinda like you want to be a film buff, but something just stops you. You my friend, are never happy. Or I suspect it's just not your medium.

E
benpeek
Apr. 16th, 2009 12:40 am (UTC)
Re: CoM
nah, that's not true. i enjoy film and there's plenty of films i like, but there's just so many films that are flawed in terms of structure and intent. i love talking about that kind've stuff so it comes out here when i write about it.

also, strangely, it feels as if a lot of bad films get made nowadays.
(Anonymous)
Apr. 16th, 2009 01:39 am (UTC)
Re: CoM
Huh, fair enough. You love it so you push it to be better? Then what are some movies you've liked?

e
benpeek
Apr. 16th, 2009 02:37 am (UTC)
Re: CoM
i'm a big fan of beat takashi films--HANA BI and his remake of ZATOICHI THE BLIND SWORDSMAN with all the dancing, for exampe. SEVEN SAMURAI, leone's westerns, including ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST (the eastwood ones which rip off YOJIMBO are my favs, tho), MYSTERY TRAIN, GHOST DOG, THE BIG LEBOWSKI, that south park flick...

i dig heaps of films, including that first PREDATOR film, for all the homosexuality.
lucius_t
Apr. 16th, 2009 05:17 pm (UTC)
Re: CoM
As you know, I thought COM was one of the stupidest films that the critics raved about ever, the absolute stupidest being Million Dollar Baby, which after reading the reviews made me wonder if the critics had everseen a movie before.

Things I objected to in addition to those stated---What's his name, the lead, absorbing a round from an assault rifle without visible effect and carrying on for quite some time as if it were nothing.

The bad guys firing madly into the car where the pregnant girl lives when assassinating Julianne Moore and yet the utmost caution not to fire taken by the same group when they're at the farm.

The only things I truly liked were the mise-en-scene and the filming of the assassination from within the car, which I thought techncally brilliant.



benpeek
Apr. 16th, 2009 11:42 pm (UTC)
Re: CoM
i did like the assassination attempt in the car, though unfortunately it opened the whole subplot about the guy's brother who died...
lucius_t
Apr. 16th, 2009 11:55 pm (UTC)
Re: CoM
Yeah, that was shit. Whole movie was, if you ask me.
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