Monday, January 29, 2007

Children of Men

I've been thinking about this movie during the few days since I saw it, and I'm glad I've had this time to mull it over. It's not at all what I was expecting when going into it, but that's not necessarily bad. The film takes place in the near future where infertility has afflicted all women all over the world. The last birth on Earth had occurred eighteen years prior. In that time, the world had descended into chaos, with major societies falling into anarchy. The story follows Theo Faron, played by Clive Owen, as he unwillingly becomes the protector of a woman, Kee (Claire-Hope Ashitey), who has miraculously become pregnant. The plot revolves around the two of them, and various groups of people who want to use her for their own personal gains.

This is a very thick movie. There is a lot of plot, a lot of characters, and even more messages. It works on most of these levels. If you go into this movie looking for action, you will not be disappointed. It is very exciting, and is paced perfectly, to heighten tension when wanted, and release the tension when needed. Beneath this, however, there are a number of subtexts. The most interesting (which I feel was under-addressed) was the idea of a global pandemic of infertility. I was disappointed that they never discuss what could have caused this, or how Kee somehow got pregnant. It seemed that this concept was only used as fuel for the other messages and wasn't explored on its own merit.

Other, more prominent messages included those of global tolerance. In this world, which takes place in Great Britain, all immigrants are criminals. This results in internment camps, and torture. On the reverse side, it also leads to terrorist organizations, one of which is interested in Kee. This leads into another message of exploiting people for political ideas. Is it appropriate to sacrifice individuals for a greater cause? These ideas are played with for the majority of the movie.

Owen does a fine job, but the real star is Ashitey. The two of them undergo some of the most realistic character changes throughout the movie. The dynamic the two of them have is honestly remarkable. Michael Cain and Julianne Moore have small roles, but they seem to thrive as a supporting cast.

Alfonso Cuaron deserved a best director nomination. Not only that, he deserves to win it. Clearly the best director nominees are stacked to try to ensure a win for Martin Scorsese. I can overlook this Cuaron's absence only because I desperately want to see Scorsese win one. Instead Children of Men got three nominations- one for the script, editing, and cinematography. Without a doubt, it deserves the editing win, if only as a sideways win for the directing. Cuaron is incredibly inventive. He has three separate shots of the course of the movie that top five minutes each. And these are very complicated shots. One involves a lengthy car conversation and chase that required one of the most inventive camera rigs I have ever seen. For an interesting behind the scenes look at that shot, go here. Be warned, however, that it contains spoilers. Another shot, which clocks in at nine minutes, involves dozens of extras, explosions, a wide area of movement, and heavy equipment. It took the crew twelve days to set up the shot, and a whole day to run through it three times. Cuaron is one of the best directors out there today.

In hindsight, I'm not exactly sure what I expected from the movie. I was intrigued with the infertility premise, and was expecting a deep exploration of what that world would be like. They did explore that world, but not in the direction that I was expecting. I did enjoy the movie, though, very much. Towards the end, it features one of the most powerful scenes I have seen in a long time. I just wish it had been a little more exploratory in its message, and not so political. I still loved it none-the-less. For another review of the movie, check out the Fighting Librarian link to the left.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I stumbled across your blog with the "next blog" function on blogger. I highly recommend reading the book "The Children of Men" by P.D. James that the movie was based on. I read it years before the movie coming out and it continues to be the most fascinating premise I've ever read in a book. You'll have to separate the movie from the book, though, because a number of the characters were changed for the movie. In the book, it's Julian who is pregnant and Kee doesn't even exist in the book. I was upset to see that they killed off Julian in the movie because I thought Julianne Moore was excellent casting. Even better, though, was the casting of Clive Owen. He played the perfect reluctant "hero."