Film Review: Children of Men

Spoiler warning: This review contains spoilers, indicated by orange italics, so avoid those paragraphs if you haven’t seen the movie.

Bryan and I saw Children of Men last night, and it evoked a response in me that I have never before experienced from a movie. I am familiar with sad movies, and scary movies, and emotionally manipulating movies, and even action and violence, but I felt none of the usual responses to these types of films. It has taken a day or so for me to put words to my emotion, and I think I have finally found the right description: grief.

I consider myself an apathetic person who finds it fairly easy to separate myself from the tragedy of other people and cultures. Even in the face of actual footage of the devastation of tsunamis and floods and hurricanes, I move about my business unfazed – unless I am drawn in by a personal connection.

I was not expecting to see any of what I saw. I was simply on a date with my husband who picked the movie, and his choice in film has never let me down. This was no exception. It was an excellent film – definitely in my top 10. But as brilliant as it was, it was also difficult to watch – much like the movie, Life is Beautiful.

As a woman who has given birth twice in a froo froo bed in a fancy hospital with staff doting over me and a warm meal brought at my request, I was moved by the experiences of Kee – the filth of the room, the cold, the fear, the pain, the lack of soothing music and a birthing ball and a hot tub. As the baby was set on Kee’s belly, a frantic whisper escaped my lips: “Cover the baby…” I said, as steam from the warm newborn wafted up into the cold space.

As the end of the movie played out, I sobbed, even into the credits and for most of the car ride home. This movie put into context a reality for many people that I have never been able to understand or even have a feeling for – in video game terms, this was a ‘first person shooter’ movie. People in other parts of the world, both currently and within my lifetime, have experienced what I saw in this film, and I was overwhelmed with grief from years of ignoring the plight of other people.

One cannot control when a baby is born, and if you happen to go into labor during a military siege, then you are not having a good day. I felt like I’d been hit by a truck after giving birth, and my insides were torn and stretched. But I slept in my soft, white bed for days until I felt strong enough to get up.

So for me, this movie was steeped in seriousness with pockets of humor, and filled with bravery, and strength of character, and hope, and a commitment to something greater than one’s self.

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