Children of Men (2006)

Clive Owen (Theo), Julianne Moore (Julian), Chiwetel Ejiofor (Luke), Claire-Hope Ashitey (Kee)

Directed by Alfonso Cuarón (Y tu mamá también)

From IMDB: "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."

Keven and I share no great fondness for Clive Owen. His style and on-screen presence bears much in common with Keanu Reeves -- stunted emotions, monotone delivery, pretty face. Owen's only advantage over Neo is that he is generally regarded as a proper actor. Such is not the case.

However, Children of Men plays to his strengths. Theo, his character, is reticent, surly, uninvolved, and playing catch-up with the plot, just like the viewers. He is a man riddled with vices to escape a fatally shitty world, and Owen's monotone suits the glum atmosphere of Theo's world.

I agree with Keven in that the "quick -- let's add characterization" scenes during the first quarter of the film seemed forced. But once the action gets moving, the grim horror of this near future becomes vivid and terrifying, like Lord of the Flies for grown-ups. In LotF, the veneer strips away from the life of young boys once isolation nulls the rules imposed on them by adults. So what would null the rules of an adult world? Nuclear fallout, naturally, but also the utter lack of a future. What is the point? Drink. Shag. Beat immigrants. Put yourself to sleep with toxins provided by the government.

The most impressive, breath-taking part of this film is the use of camera work. In four places that I noticed -- driving in the car, escaping from the house, during the delivery, and storming into the streets and apartment block -- the scene DOES NOT BREAK. (And if it does break, the editing is astounding and seamless.) Cuarón uses continuous footage, like a war correspondent following the troops. The choreography just boggles my mind -- a film director leading his cast through the steps of elaborate 20-minute acts where squibs and fake bombs fly past their heads.

Much like other later-day apocalypse films like 28 Days Later, this one does not try to solve all the problems of the world in two hours. Theo does not discover a cure for infertility, nor its origins. He does not reform the anti-immigrant legislation. He does not fix a planet destroyed by nuclear weapons. The screenplay gives him a difficult but much more feasible task, something to get us behind him and hope he succeeds in providing at least that much goodness to a messed up life.

Watch the film just to admire its fantastic crafting. Enjoy the film as a testament to something beautiful and taken for granted. Come away from the film with a sneaking suspicion that John Connor and The Terminator were right:
"We're not going to make it, are we? Humans, I mean."
"It is in your nature to destroy yourselves."

1 comment:

Ashok said...

"Enjoy the film as a testament to something beautiful and taken for granted. "

I have stressed the same "taken for granted" in my review too ! :-)