By Al Kratina
Feb 1, 2007 - 22:15
Starring: Clive Owen, Julianne Moore, Michael Caine, Chiwetel Ejiofor
Directed by: Alfonso Cuaron
Written by: Alfonso Cuaron, Timothy J. Sexton, David Arata, Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby, P.D. James (novel)
Produced by: Marc Abraham, Eric Newman, Hilary Shor, Iain Smith, Tony Smith
Genres: Drama, Science Fiction
Release Date: January 5, 2007
MPAA Rating: Rated R for strong violence, language, some drug use and brief nudity.
Distributors: Universal Pictures
Children of Men is nominated for 2007 Academy Awards for Best Achievement in Cinematography, Best Achievement in Editing, and Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay.
Britain seems to be a popular destination come the end of the world. 28 Days Later, V For Vendetta, and now Children Of Men all take place in England, leading me to believe that stuffy elitism and an indifference to the world around you makes a fine defense against apocalyptic disasters. I'm not sure that there would be much to do in England come Ragnarok, what with their 4 TV stations and endless shoelace-staring Radiohead clones and self-absorbed club kids hogging up all the good drugs, but regardless, they seem to do alright for themselves in most cases.
In director Alfonso Cuaron's Children Of Men, the women of the world have lost the ability to conceive. With an expiry date on humanity, much of the world has collapsed, leaving Britain an isolated state, soldiering on while coming apart at the seams. Apparently, Margaret Thatcher has also been re-elected, because the government is a controlling, xenophobic, fascist state, full of internment camps, police brutality, and plenty of other references to the Patriot Act, Guantanamo Bay, and Alan Moore comics. Clive Owen plays a disillusioned ex-radical, drunk and working an office job, who is drawn back into the fold by his long since ex-wife, played by Julianne Moore. Moore is the leader of a terrorist organization known as the Fishes, who have dedicated themselves to fighting for the rights of foreigners and refugees, who are being deported and interned by the thousands. They have managed, through means that are never made clear, to come across a pregnant refugee, the first woman to carry a child in 18 years, and Owen is enlisted to help get the girl to the coast, where a ship from the mythical Human Project will pick her up and whisk her off to paradise.
Despite the fact that the premise of the film revolves around fertility and immigration, two of the most exciting subjects since do-it-yourself dry-walling, Children of Men is one of the tensest films I've seen in the past few years. With a sense of panic and a blindingly fast forward momentum reminiscent of Dawn Of The Dead, plus a harrowing view of a police-state that brings to mind 1984, or, say, the United States, Children Of Men keeps adrenaline flowing without sucking all the blood from the brain. Cuaron gives the film one of the harshest looks I've seen for this type of movie, shooting everything hand-held with a single camera, like YouTube war footage but with better sound. And while this documentary realism may occasionally fail the film, when the camera appears to get distracted by bright lights and some of the tension drifts away, for the vast majority of the time the immersive style is visceral and immediate. These elements alone sell the viewer on the film, throwing the audience into the action immediately, so it almost doesn't matter that the performances by the leads are convincing and powerful, but they are. The script, based on a novel by P.D. James, is relevant and powerful, the characterizations are fully fleshed out, and above all, the film is believable. It's a horrible vision of the future, but one not devoid of hope that humanity will survive, and that Britain may prevail, four channels and all.
Rating: 9 on 10