There be hormones

Rachel and I watched a movie, Children of Men, a couple of nights ago. It’s a post-apocalyptic, dystopian (is that redundant?) flick set about 20 years into the future. In that world, for reasons no one can fathom, no child has been born for the past 18 years. Until, that is, we happen across Ki, a young woman who is miraculously pregnant. Clive Owen’s character, Theo, is charged with her safety — and, eventually, that of her newborn daughter (whom, of course, he delivers) — against the hordes of evil plotters out to claim Mary and Jesus Ki and baby for their nefarious purposes.

So, the baby is born. The baby is sheltered from gunfire and car crashes and collapsing buildings and the entire British army. Mom and baby finally escape to the forces of good when Theo secures a dinky lifeboat and rows them out to sea to meet some mythical organization called The Human Project. This all takes up about the last 30 minutes of the movie.

During pretty much that entire 30 minutes, the newborn baby cries. Cries in that mewly, urgent, newborn way that newborns do when they are, oh, hungry. She cries and cries and cries, and Ki, the mom, never, ever feeds her. When they're in the rowboat, finally safe, when I'm thinking I can finally relax, Theo suggests to Ki that she might want to pat the baby’s back.

I don't know about the experience of non-breastfeeding folks watching the movie, but for me this was torture. There’s no way to put this delicately: my nipples were going crazy. “Feed her," I hissed at the screen several times: “Feed her.” Finally I told Rachel, “I can't stand it any more. If she doesn't feed that baby soon, I'm going to rip it out of the screen and do it for her.”

Were there no mothers on the film crew that day? Did it occur to anybody in the continuity department that the entire human race depended on this baby’s survival? Have I inadvertently stumbled across a new school of film criticism?