Children of Men
reviewed by Misael Soto (9/10)
The year is 2027. No child has been born for 18 years and science is at loss to explain how or why. African and East European societies have collapsed and their dwindling populations have migrated to England and other wealthy nations. In a climate of nationalistic violence, a London peace activist turned bureaucrat, Theo Faron, joins forces with his revolutionary ex-wife Julian in order to save mankind by escorting a young immigrant, who has mysteriously became pregnant, through the dangers of the fascist, chaotic, anti-immigration process to an oasis at sea where scientists struggle frantically to find answers and save the human race.
Even though Children of Men certainly ranks amongst my favorites of the year (making my top 5 even), I'm sure it could easily top my list with a second and third viewing. Many shots have layered meaning, so layered I wish I could’ve paused them in an effort to analyze them more effectively, although that would spoil the sheer exhilaration of the film’s fantastic imagery rushing over me. Its screenplay does little to spoon feed the audience. And I wish I had taken a Red Bull before the film, if only to capture the nuances of Clive Owen's tremendous performance embodying a character of such depth and range. To understand what it all means, to fully grasp its massive scope as well as its subtle brilliance, it's absolutely necessary to see this film more than once. I'm currently making plans to see it again, and I’m eagerly anticipating this film’s impending masterpiece status.
Children of Men boasts some of the most brilliantly realistic and overly thrilling chase and actions scenes I've seen in ages. I was on pins and needles for a great majority of the second half of the film, shouting abruptly in surprise like a child on a number of occasions. A particular car chase blew me away. As with many harrowing scenes in the film, this car chase was filmed completely in one take, the camera work immaculately planned and yet not at all distracting. Claims of the film having the best cinematography of the year are completely valid. At times the camera work is so realistic you literally feel like you're in the film. At other times you're taken aback by the sheer rawness of the intense images before you. And at others you're simply awestruck by its beauty.
Day’s have passed since I’ve seen the film and I simply cannot get it out of my head (not that I would want to). Many of its stunning images have been embedded into my psyche and keep coming up in my mind as I find more and deeper meaning in Cuaron's masterpiece of the genre. Its message of hope amidst chaos and emptiness is as powerful and resonant as any of our recent holocaust films. Schindler's List especially comes to mind and not just because of this theme of hope but also due to its refreshing message of personal improvement and fulfillment, something echoed in last year's South African gem Tsotsi as well. Above all Children of Men is a story of one man's self discovery of purpose; finding hope and meaning in an otherwise dreary existence. Owen's character's journey is truly moving and deeply affecting. Cuaron's acknowledgement of religion as an important part of any country's culture and daily life was surprising and refreshing, particularly his avid use of Christian allegory and symbolism which really surprised me. This is the kind of movie true Christians should get behind and support. And it’s no surprise, after the disappointing box-office numbers of last month’s The Nativity Story that many critics are calling Children of Men this year’s real “nativity story.
Lately there has been the amazing argument that Children of Men is the Blade Runner of our generation. This is not a farfetched claim, although not because they're similar in message, substance, or even quality but because Children of Men is as important to the sci-fi genre now as Blade Runner was in 1982. I can only hope that more gritty and socially aware sci-fi like Children of Men will be released because of its popularity.
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