Children of Men is one of the bleakest movies of the 21st Century so far. It starts with a random bombing of a coffee house and the death of the last child born on earth, Baby Diego. Bright colors have been stripped out of the movie leaving behind shades of grays and blacks compounding the overall depressive nature of the movie. You won’t find the sun shining.
There are few feel-good moments in the movie- Theon (Clive Owen) and Julian (Julianne Moore) catching a ping pong ball in their mouths, Jasper (Michael Caine) going on about strawberry weed. These moments are fleeting at best; Julia is shot and Jasper euthanizes his invalid wife before being shot dead. More than once we see immigrants and refugees being put in cages without due process of any law. Fanatic soldiers cage a citizen without batting an eye. The government has turned authoritarian and things are going off the rails, if they haven’t already.
Even the discovery of the first pregnant woman in more than twenty years does not make the sun shine in Children of Men nor does it make anything better. In fact, Theo discovering Kee (Clare-Hope Ashitey) pregnant is what turns the movie on its head from dark and depressive to something else. The group Julian said would help Kee actively hunt them both down and they’re willing to kill Theo for Kee.
Things turn chaotic after Luke, whose splinter group was responsible for killing Julian, tracks them down to a city turned into an internment camp. The entire city becomes a warzone. It’s difficult to tell who is shooting at who and for why. Buildings are bombed and people are shot at random. In the midst of the chaos the baby is born.
But even in its bleakness Children of Men is a movie of hope. It can be seen in Kee braiding Jasper’s wife’s hair. It can be seen in the old woman giving orange slices to Kee’s baby. It can be seen in Theo showing Kee how to stop her baby from crying. More importantly hope can be seen in what the movie does not show.
Children of Men doesn’t rely on convention. It doesn’t feel the need to explain why women have become infertile. It doesn’t feel the need to explain beyond people lost hope to explain why things turned bad and an oppressive government came to power. It doesn’t feel the need to explain the classic rock music or the homage to a Pink Floyd album sitting silently in the background, except to say everyone has turned into animals. It doesn’t explain how Kee could become pregnant when other women are infertile.
If babies not being born tore the country apart then surely the birth of a baby can bring it together again. We see it for a moment. The chaos briefly stops. Theo and Kee cautiously walk out of the building that moments before was being shelled. Soldiers stop fighting each other. A path is cleared for Theo, Kee, and her baby. Some soldiers kneel and make the sign of the cross. New life brought into a world of destruction, a world that just a few moments before had no future, now seems to have a future.
Luke (Chiwetel Ejiofor) called Kee’s pregnancy “a miracle.” Though we don’t see Kee boarding the Human Project’s ship, the credits roll well before we’re sure she’s even seen, we can only assume they take her aboard. Children of Men explains nothing. It can only be guessed as to what happens next, but whatever happens the future seems bright. A miracle indeed.