Children of Men

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Movie Review: Children of Men


The Earth has a population of over six billion, with nearly 200,000 more people born every single day. We occupy every continent and use billions of tons of resources every day. Humans are the monopoly of all species upon this planet. But what if the situation was opposite? What if there were no new babies born each day? What if women lost that ability to create children forever?

This is what gifted director Alfonso Cuaron's latest creation, Children of Men addresses. The time is 2027; the setting, London, England. Cuaron's vision of the future is not similar to those of typical science-fiction movies, all sleek and cold chrome metal. Instead, it is just like the London of today- gray, wet, and vibrantly urban. The only indication of the time comes from the news broadcast which begins the film, informing a stunned crowd of the death of the youngest person on Earth, Baby Diego. In today's society, this would not be news; but in this future, the youngest person on Earth is a full 18 years old. Women are no longer able to conceive, and because of this, the entire world has erupted into chaos. Only England retains a semblance of order, though it is a fragile one and about the collapse in a violent explosion of desperation and anger. Thousands of foreigners who pour in to seek refuge are put into ghettos, shot immediately if they fight. There is no room for entropy in this situation.

Theodore Faron (in a fantastic performance by Clive Owen), a bored Londoner stuck in an office job, begins his day in a coffee shop, hearing the story of Baby Diego's death. Soon after, an explosion blasts a building behind him. Unruffled, he continues on his way to work. His lack of response may be disturbing, but it is used to illustrate the mood of the whole world. It seems the only thing that really alarms him is a visit from his former wife, Julian (the equally powerful Julianne Moore) and Luke (a ferocious Chiwetel Ejiofor). She has dedicated her life to seeking The Human Project, a mysterious and mythical society rumored to be seeking a cure for infertility. Her motivations are purely professional, chillingly so. She shows no concern for Theo's well-being, having him abducted in broad daylight (another shocking scene which evokes no emotion from witnesses) and demanding he use his government connections to seek travel papers for a special young woman, Key (Claire Ashitey). He refuses until money is mentioned. The shrewdness of Theo and Julian are bitter warnings to humanity; they represent everything we threaten to become. But the importance of this young woman is unprecedented: she is pregnant. Suddenly, the tension becomes electric and palpable.
Soon, the story evolves into more than just a struggle to keep Kee and her unborn child safe. It also depicts the simmering anger of the persecuted immigrants and the primal instinct that emerges in the face of extinction.

The strength of film comes from technical, visual and performance faces. The leads are outstanding in complex and well-written roles, especially Clive Owen. He lets loose a vulgar, unbridled performance as an angry and frustrated man who knows he can do little to help a situation he has only worsened. Watch his face while he sees his hippie friend Jasper (a weirdly perfect Michael Caine) being harassed by police seeking him; the dread is heartbreaking. Ashitey and Ejiofor also deliver memorable supporting performances. But what is really unprecedented is the amazing and groundbreaking camera work that Cuaron practices. His panning camera shots of a war torn ghetto and hilarious car chase vibrate with realism. He has set the bar for cinematography for years to come. Combine all of these strengths with a haunting theme and starkly beautiful imagery, and you have one of the best movies of 2006, one that will soon be considered a new classic.

Children of Men is rated R for strong violence, language, some drug use and brief nudity.





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