We saw Children of Men on Saturday. I was kind of dreading it, having seen the preview so many times for the past year, and then reading reviews of how depressing it was. (We were taking out our friend Pam for her birthday and I wondered if Dreamgirls might be more suitably upbeat.) But as brilliantly filmed as the movie was, it wasn't all that harrowing, perhaps because it doesn't have much in the way of moral depth or ambiguity. The similarly set District B13, while superficially a dumber movie, offered a more complicated picture.
But Children of Men's genius is in its full-blown-full-blooded portrait of a world which has come to almost a complete stop. I found myself thinking about The Giver--you could see how people, confronted with a society as broken as the one depicted in the movie, would find the chilling security of Jonas' community such a comfort. Lowry's genius in that book is also the fully imagined realization of its setting, and it's brilliantly unsettling in the way she first gets you to want to move there before revealing the price to be paid.
Where you can really go to town with comparing Children of Men and The Giver is in their endings. I won't give anything away, though. See for yourself.