'Children of Men': You Must Watch Cuarón's Masterpiece Before It Leaves Netflix

Before he made 'Roma,' Cuarón's action-packed epic became a must-watch movie.

Alfonso Cuarón just earned 10 Academy Award nominations for Netflix with Roma, a quiet Spanish-language movie filmed in black-and-white. If you’re looking to learn more about the Mexican director, his dystopian masterpiece, Children of Men is also available on Netflix — but not for much longer. The 2006 sci-fi classic is set to leave the streaming service in February. So now’s your chance to get to know the director a little better before he sweeps the Oscars on February 24.

Netflix announced its lineup of February streaming additions on Wednesday, along with its list of movies and films leaving the platform on February 1. Edgar Wright’s iconic Shaun of the Dead and the cult classic Clerks are on the list of departing films, along with Cuarón’s Children of Men.

So what’s Children of Men about? Well, it couldn’t be more different from Roma, but it shares an unmistakably quality in its visual storytelling. That rings true for most of Cuarón’s work, which covers a wide range of genres from Mexican romantic drama with Y Tu Mamá También (2001) to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004).

Children of Men is unmistakebly a Cuarón movie, while at the same time standing apart from the rest of his work in both its scope and the powerful political message it embodies, one that rings even truer today.

Children of Men
Few directors have a better eye for framing shots that capture character moments than Alfonso Cuaron.

Based on a 1992 novel called The Children of Men by P. D. James, Cuarón’s film adaptation stars Clive Owen as Theo Faron, a cynical man working for the UK government in the bleak dystopia of 2027. Worldwide infertility and economic depression have left mankind on the brink of extinction, with most of the world rendered uninhabitable because of radiation and antibiotic-resistant plagues. Meanwhile, international refugees mistreated and literally caged by the government (sound familiar?) have coalesced into a militia that could lead to war in the streets at any minute.

Imagine The Handmaid’s Tale without Gilead. There’s is no theocracy to create a “solution” based on marginalizing and manipulating fertile women as a resource. This is a godless world where infertility is the only certainty.

That is until Theo gets reluctantly compelled to protect a young refugee girl who could hold the key to saving the world. Getting her to a group of scientists working on a fertility cure as war breaks out across England is no small feat. Not even Theo thinks he can do it.

Children of Men
Protecting Kee and her precious cargo become more important than anything else in the world.

Anyone who’s a fan of 2013’s video game masterpiece The Last of Us will see a lot of thematic resemblance in Children of Men. Both offer the story of a miserable man rekindling a spark of hope they thought impossible as they find redemption in a devastated world. They’re both stories about the apocalypse and the moral issues presented by the utilitarian mindset of rebel groups.

Is it worth it to sacrifice one person to save humanity? Or would doing so destroy what makes humanity valuable?

Cuarón brings out the best in Clive Owen as Theo, who delivers a complex performance as an optimist shattered by personal trauma. He’s the everyman turned savior whose misery feels all too relatable in a world broken beyond repair, but so does his rising sense of noble sacrifice as he transcends from the man we can identify with to the hero we all wish we were.

Also, Michael Caine plays an aging hippy. ‘Nuff said.

Children of Men leaves Netflix on February 1. So you have until the end of Thursday, January 31 to watch it.

Media via Universal Pictures, Universal Studios, Universe Pictures