January 08, 2007 12:00 PM

Clive Owen, Julianne Moore, Michael Caine, Claire-Hope Ashitey

CRITIC’S CHOICE

DRAMA

Sci-fi doesn’t come smarter, better or less flashy than this. In an engrossing thriller set in 2027, a baby’s cry hasn’t been heard on Earth for 18 years. That’s when the last infant was born; since then, mysteriously, infertility prevails, along with death, destruction and anarchy. England remains one of the few functional countries and is home to Theo (Owen), a weary bureaucrat. Given the chance to play Joseph to a potential Mary—the film knowingly echoes the Nativity story—he reluctantly rises to the occasion. Expressively directed by Alfonso Cuarón (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban), Children of Men presents a chillingly believable version of the future. It will stay with you long after the end credits fade. (R)

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