Grimly dystopian but bursting with cinematic brio, Alfonso Cuarón’s “Children of Men” (2006) is a movie that, set in 2027, looks like the current day — solely extra so. It may nearly have taken the title of Anthony Trollope’s 1875 novel, “The Approach We Stay Now.”
The film — displaying Friday and Saturday at midnight on the IFC Heart in 35-millimeter print — opens in a dank, despoiled Britain dominated within the identify of Homeland Safety. Murderous gangs plague the countryside. Refugees are saved in cages. A bomb explodes on a busy London road even earlier than the film declares its title. “The world has collapsed,” the TV studies, however “Britain troopers on.”
This collapsed future world, as imagined in P.D. James’s 1992 speculative fiction, can also be a world that has no future. Human fertility has vanished. The species is dying even sooner than the earth. It’s been 18 years for the reason that final child was born. Certainly, the film opens with mass mourning for the world’s youngest particular person, who has been killed.
The protagonist, Theo, performed by Clive Owen, is a low-level bureaucrat and depressed former activist drawn again into the wrestle after agreeing to assist a resistance group led by his ex-partner, performed by Julianne Moore. (Chiwetel Ejiofor is one other member.) Theo’s mission is to get transit paperwork for a younger girl (Clare-Hope Ashitey) who, miraculously pregnant, must be smuggled overseas.
With this quest, “Kids of Males” turns into a darkish and bloody magical journey, performed out in cozy woodland hide-outs and hellish focus camps populated by the human equivalents of hobbits, wizards and orcs. Shot by the distinguished Mexican cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, the film has a number of jaw-dropping lengthy takes (or obvious lengthy takes) that don’t cease the motion with their choreographed virtuosity however solely improve its acceleration. One is a jolting, gory car chase as seen from contained in the pursued automotive; the opposite, much more superb, has Theo sprint from a nightmare of a jail camp right into a free-fire zone, attempting to guard a new child.
At least Mr. Cuarón’s “Gravity,” one other technological tour de drive, “Kids of Males” is an evident spiritual parable. Life is just not solely fragile but additionally violently transitory. Few in style films are so predicated on sudden demise and irrevocable loss, whereas nonetheless providing the promise — or phantasm — of hope. There’s a little bit of Andrei Tarkovsky in Mr. Cuarón’s redemptive imaginative and prescient and a measure of self-mocking millennialism too. It’s not any film that, already steeped in ’60s rock, can use John Lennon’s anthem “Bring on the Lucie (Freda Peeple)” below its finish credit. (The movie even has a Lennon determine in Michael Caine’s cheerful previous hippie.)