The Life of JaWS

A blog by Jason Sansbury

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Movie Review: Children of Men

Ever since I saw a trailer for Children of Men I have been waiting to see Alfonso Cuarón’s latest film. (His previous work includes films like Y tu mamá también and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.) And I must say, it has been well worth the wait…

The basic premise of Children of Men is that the world has plunged into chaos, with Britain being the only place where some form of civilization and government has survived, though they are waging a war against illegal immigration. In the midst of this (and perhaps the cause of it) the human race has gone infertile. There have been no new children born for over 18 years. And in the midst of that, Theodore Falon, who is played by an amazing Clive Owens, is suddenly finding himself in a situation with what may be the first human birth in two decades. I don’t want to say too much else, as I don’t want to ruin the plot but the movie is amazing on several levels.

First, the movie does a healthy balance of giving details but not too many on how the world is and has descended into chaos. Some reviews of the film I read complained of wanting some more back story on how the world got to its state. I simply think that such a desire is too overreaching. What matters is that Cuarón through his lens makes us believe that such a descent has really happened. Imagine if suddenly we knew the human race would die out in 100 years, at best. Lots of things would stop happening- things like environmental concerns, cleaning up after yourself, etc. The world portrayed in this film is frightening because it is so realistic in regards to human nature. Simply put I found myself watching the film and realizing the far reaching implications of the state of humanity through the images that are shown. That move in storytelling has to be a remarkably difficult one to make work but it is done flawlessly. So while we may all want a clearer and stronger idea of what got the world to this place, I think the focus on showing what the world really is like was the right and most excellent focus.

Second, there are some remarkable performances in this film. In particular Michael Caine’s portrayl as a recluse with a silent, near catatonic state is really, really well done. It is a stellar cast of both known and relatively unknown actors that works well .

Third, while some of the film deals with some political statements, it isn’t done in a way that overwhelms the content of the story. The statements made are part of the larger story and in way feel like propaganda pieces that divert one from the story.

Lastly, there are scenes that are particularly moving. I don’t want to say much about those scenes as some talk would ruin parts of the film. Needless to say, Cuarón is an amazing storyteller and filmmaker. I think this film may be among my top 10 of all time and certainly is the best movie I have seen in theaters or on DVD this year. So I would thoroughly recommend this one for your viewing.


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