|Directed by:||Alfonso Cuaron|
|Written by:||Alfonso Cuaron, David Arata, Timothy Sexton|
|Cast:||Clive Owen, Julianne Moore, Charlie Hunnam, Michael Caine, Chiwetel Ejiofor|
The premise is very 'sci-fi', but the movie itself doesn't FEEL very sci-fi. In this case, it's a very good thing. OK, so technology has seemed to have reached a standstill by 2027, but people have more things to worry about in a world where there's no one younger than 18 years old. Instead, everyone's busy shooting the shit out of one another, and the government is enforcing outlandish laws to try to bring peace and control all at once. Poor Theodore's ex girlfriend is a known terrorist who comes to him for help. He can't help but assist her. Can you say "Pussy Whipped"?
Joking aside, Cuarón managed to thrust me into a world that was convincing enough to not pull me out of it. Love a lot of the subtle touches of a world without children (notice a lot of closed locations, and what people have used to replace not HAVING kids). Moreover, everyone did an outstanding job with their roles, especially the always-solid-as-a-rock Owen. He passes as a man who knows his position in life and is happy sticking to it. He doesn't ASK to try to be the hero. Newcomer Claire-Hope Ashity does great as the vulnerable, but strong-willed mother of her unborn child.
What impressed me most with Children of Men was what I was least expecting; the nitty realism of the environments, as well as the effective cruelty of the violence onscreen. There's a coffee shop explosion near the beginning that had me feeling sorry for the shock-ridden woman walking on the sidewalk holding her own arm. There are a lot of shots in the head, and a few gunfights. I FELT those headshots, and I also had an emotional involvement during each attack. The special effects are nearly seamless, especially when two people are knocked off a motorcycle by a car door, or ramming their head into a haystack (gotta see it to understand the context). Last and certainly not least is the movie's final gunfight, in which the militia attacks the slummiest streets chock-full of heavily armed rebels. We follow Owen through the war torn streets as people fall left and right of him, and bullets go whizzing by. The utter REALISM of the sound effects, the way the camera just smoothly follows Owen from one prop to the next is enough to make even Spielberg's opening sequence in Saving Private Ryan get a run for its' money! There's no shaky cam, no overly emphasized sound effects, nor the omnipresent cutting of frames for "adrenalized choppiness" that was established in Spielberg's D-Day invasion. Instead, Cuarón decided to allow us all to take in the moments at a liesurely pace, soaking in each passing second with nail biting results. I can't emphasize how fantastically choreographed this final sequence was!
All things considered, Children of Men was fascinating. Great story concept, some surprises here and there, and the aforementioned unexpected shootout set-pieces - which I don't want to call "action" scenes, per se - help top off the already well written screenplay and powerhouse performances. Alfonso Cuarón topped himself with this one. The last thing I would have expected from him was a movie with so many guns and explosions, but boy am I thankful he's done it! Best word I can think of to describe Chidlren of Men is "gritty". Very effective filmmaking.