This is what you go to the movies for: A piece of filmmaking so majestically well-made, so unerringly committed to being what it is, so full of ideas and adrenaline that it makes your mind and heart race. Directed by Alfonso Cuarón (Y Tu Mamá También, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban), Children of Men is the best film of 2006 -- an exciting, powerful and haunting film that mixes our hopeful dreams with our most fearsome nightmares.
Children of Men begins with a bleary-eyed Clive Owen stumbling into a London coffee shop jammed with shell-shocked people staring at the TV: "The world was stunned today by the death of Diego Ricardo, the youngest person on the planet, the youngest person on earth was 18 years, 4 months, 20 days, 16 hours, and 8 minutes old." It's 2027, and -- for reasons no one can understand -- the human race has been collectively, completely infertile for 18 years.
This is just the premise, of course, and Children of Men is no more "about" its sci-fi idea than Moby Dick is "about" fishing. Owen's Theo Faron -- burnt-out, rumpled and perpetually fishing a pint of whisky out of his pockets -- is drinking and thinking his way through a world of horrible strangeness and horrible familiarity. Curarón and his production crew paint the world and its end for us so briskly that we understand that life in 2027 is exactly like life in 2006, but more so: The numb hum of consumerism, the muffled grunts of injustices done in the name of the common good, the shaking shock from the last horrible piece of news, the hunched wait for the next unhappy headline.