It's 2027. Humanity's survival has come to the beginning of an end. War is everywhere. The world is completely hopeless. That is the world director Alfonso Cuaron depicted in his 2006 dystopian film Children of Men. Procreation has stopped for 18 years, and has left the society at the brink of annihilation and collapse. Children of Men has been on my radar for a long time, and after 12 years since its release, I have watched it twice for the first time. And all I can say is that I loved it.
To say this film is great is an understatement. I loved it not only because of Cuaron's excellent skill in directing, nor the impressive performances of our actors, but because of how deep it dug through the themes in our society. The futuristic world portrayed in Children of Men was bleak, gritty and despairing. Characters don't wear bizarre costumes or use highly-advanced gadgets - they felt like real human beings. These characters were in turn played by an incredible cast starring Clive Owen, Julianne Moore and Michael Caine.
Cuaron masterfully crafted a dystopian world though the use of bleak colors, gloomy lighting and grim atmosphere. Special credit to director of photography Emmanuel Lubezki (Birdman), this film offered a lot of long-take shots as well as visually powerful imageries. Speaking of imageries, this film contained a handful of contemporary references, whether explicitly or implicitly from artworks, music or literature. These, combined with a strong, and sometimes haunting narrative made me want to watch this film over and over again.
But the biggest strength of this movie (in my opinion), was its inclusion of socio-political ideas. Not every film can perfectly tackle sci-fi elements and political themes at the same time, unless it's Children of Men. Several references such as immigration camps were highly reminiscent and familiar to concentration camps of Jews during World War II. Other socially satirical ideas include terrorism, capitalism and sexism. And perhaps, my flaw with the film was that it overshadowed its fictional arc in return for its realistic sides.
The whole film was told from the perspective Owen's character, Theo. When he learned that the only key to humanity's survival was under his protection, we were engaged in a totally different (male) view regarding motherhood, childbirth and pregnancy. His character was conflicted by nature, society, fate, and himself, and by the end, we became him. He discovered that hope could be found, that even in the darkest and tragic areas, hope could arise, and we were in utter empathy.