A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this dystopian drama includes such intense violence and other mature elements that you'll probably want to keep kids away (that is, if they're even interested). The film depicts a near-future world in the midst of anarchy, where terrorism is a constant threat. Characters drink, smoke, and use drugs frequently; a pot-dealing character is one of the most endearing in the film. Scenes include scary surprise attacks, drawn-out gunfire and shelling episodes, bloody amputated bodies, burning dead animals, and gory one-on-one combat. Some scenes are filmed in a way that makes viewers feel viscerally connected to the action, including the sense of intense threat and exhilaration. A very realistic and graphic childbirth scene occurs.
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What's the story?
Set in Great Britain in 2027, CHILDREN OF MEN is an intensely violent, dystopian vision of a future in which women are infertile and the world is in the midst of complete social collapse. When one of the last children born on Earth is murdered, his death sets off massive protests and violent conflicts between sectarian groups. Bureaucrat Theo (Clive Owen) is reluctantly drawn in to the fray when his ex-wife, Julian (Julianne Moore) -- head of an underground opposition group -- asks him for help transporting a special passenger out of London. In a chaotic Big-Brother atmosphere, Theo joins the group to help transport a pregnant West African woman named Kee (Claire-Hope Ashitey) to The Human Project, an organization operating from a ship offshore. After marauders attack Theo's caravan, the team regroups in a remote farmhouse. Theo soon has to escape again, this time with Kee and a midwife in tow. They relocate to the house of Theo's good friend, Jasper (Michael Caine), who offers them shelter and encouragement in making it to their destination.
Is it any good?
Working from a screenplay he co-wrote (based on P.D. James' novel), director Alfonso Cuarón paints a gritty, paranoid, and occasionally hopeful picture. He draws on modern anxieties about war, terrorism, immigration, race, class, pollution, and technology. The group's struggle to reach the Human Project includes some of the most graphic, gripping, and engrossing filmmaking in recent memory. Cuarón's documentary-style camera work brings the viewer right into the violent action.
Caine's character is a bright spot -- though caring for his catatonic wife in isolation, he remains cheerful and passionate, enjoying food, music, and occasional company with heartfelt glee (helped along, perhaps, by the large quantities of marijuana that he smokes). The movie's abrupt ending, while disorienting at first, offers relief from the film's intensity. Dark, intense and violent, Children of Men is most certainly not for kids -- and even most teens. Pregnant women and new parents also might want to avoid it, due to the focus on threats to children and the intense birth scene.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the movie's vision of the future -- and your own thoughts about what it might be like. Why do so many movies have a bleak vision of the future? Are you optimistic about it? Why or why not? What do you think is the biggest threat to the world's future? How do you balance daily life with thoughts or fears about greater social problems like war or environmental pollution? What do you think happens in the movie's imaginary world after the credits roll? How realistic do you think a scenario like this is?
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