For the past decade, Clive Owen has tested my patience.
Every now and then, the actor appears in something that's OK (hello, "Duplicity" and "Shadow Dancer," you're underrated). Now, like the majority of actors I enjoy watching, he's puttering around in pure dreck (this year's "Anon" is a career nadir).
The main reason I get frustrated? Owen was the battered heart of the masterpiece 2006 dystopian drama "Children of Men," now streaming on Netflix.
Set in 2027, "Children of Men" shows society on the brink of collapse after decades of human infertility. At the same time, the last functioning government imposes oppressive immigration laws.
Simply typing out that plot summary is tough, because, yes, this movie is bleak and unnervingly prescient. There's no doubt "Children of Men" is hard to watch, especially now, with its depiction of society caving in to fear. From a filmmaking standpoint, how director Alfonso Cuarón stages certain scenes (a one-shot, long-take car chase and a tracking shot following two characters down a staircase) always impresses.
In the middle of it all is Owen as Theo Faron, an everyday man keeping to himself and trying to survive. Like those around him, Faron is helplessly aware of the impending doom. He tries to keep himself occupied, working and hanging out with his oddball friend (Michael Caine, a pot-smoking father figure). Then, Faron's estranged wife (Julianne Moore) returns to give her husband a mission: Help a pregnant refugee (Clare-Hope Ashitey) escape.
In this dangerous task, Faron regains purpose, confronts danger and finds a new reason to hope. It's hard not to feel as defeated yet determined as Faron, especially now as global anxiety and tension is renewed with the click of the refresh button on your social media feed.
All I ask is that Owen reclaims his greatness and give me one more great film like "Children of Men." Hopefully, he does so before 2027.
Also streaming this month
ON AMAZON PRIME: "Michael Clayton" and "The Adventures of Tintin," available now; "McQueen," available Nov. 17.
ON HBO GO: "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy" and "Cop Car," available now; "Love, Simon" and "Paddington 2," available Nov. 10.
ON HULU: "Blue Chips," "The Conversation," "The Faculty," "Fargo," "Rescue Dawn," "Wonder," available now; "Europa Report," available Nov. 7; "Big Hero 6," available Nov. 10.
ON NETFLIX: "Cape Fear," "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," "The Other Side of the Wind" and "They'll Love Me When I'm Dead," available now; "Green Room," available Nov. 12; "The Ballad of Buster Scruggs," available Nov. 16.