Children of Men (2006)
Japan / Serbo-Croatian
"No children. No future. No hope. "In 2027, in a chaotic world in which humans can no longer procreate, a former activist agrees to help transport a miraculously pregnant woman to a sanctuary at sea, where her child's birth may help scientists save the future of humankind.
"The future's a thing of the past." Tremendous from start to finish.
The apocalypse arrives on film once again in a plot so simple it's
horrifyingly believable. It's 2027 and the world is close to
annihilation because no child has been born in 18 years. London office
worker Theo (Clive Owen) is offered cash by a radical ex-girlfriend to
escort a refugee (Claire-Hope Ashitey) to safety. Their lives are soon
at risk from both government and revolutionaries.
Although the camera work and cinematography is nothing short of
stunning the focus always with our protagonist, ensuring we're kept in
the middle of the action throughout. It is also undoubtedly one of
Owen's finest performances to date. Theo is never far from danger yet
he struggles on with convincing dignity. Occasionally baffled but far
from stupid - Theo is essentially a reckless, underplayed action hero
that doesn't jump at every opportunity to arm himself with a gun. This
works well with the international ensemble of incredible talent:
Michael Caine's charming pot dealing hippie, feisty Julianne Moore, key
role Claire-Hope Ashitey, the wonderful Pam Ferris, the increasingly
busy, excellent Chiwetel Ejiofor, Danny Huston and
writer/director/producer Peter Cullen (gloriously sadistic Syd) to name
a few... This is surely a casting coup to be jealous of.
The episodic nature of the story makes Children of Men difficult to
place into one genre alone. Briefly glimpsed futuristic sci-fi
technology is grounded in reality and looks entirely achievable while
grey, graffiti ridden concrete locations provide an excellent backdrop
for the near satirical look of our current social and political
climate. There's poignant drama interspersed amongst exhilarating
action and yet enough twists to call it a thriller.
This is not to say it's flawless. Some exposition is handled better in
places than others for instance. However Alfonso Cuarón has achieved a
completely remarkable experience. Arguably the film could have been
longer given how strong most of it is. The only really hard pill to
swallow is the comedy juxtaposed with some stark imagery that looks all
too familiar to anyone who has ever seen the News from the past few
decades. Nice to see a Pink Floyd reference though (pigs might fly!),
and someone finally found a use for Battersea Power Station.
Ideally an audience should see this film with no preconceptions and
know as little about the plot as possible. This will be unlikely though
due to a staggered box-office release schedule, word of mouth and a
plethora of reviews and trailers that are eager to give much of the
game away. Ironic then perhaps that it must be said - Children of Men
is a cinematic milestone. Great special effects and an effective
soundtrack accompany this heartfelt, moving and thought-provoking film.
Easily one of the best films in recent memory.
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