Children of Men (2006)

Posted by Maria Mills | Posted on 11:15 PM | Posted in

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Movie Review written by: Born Movie Reviews
RT Critics Rating: 9.3/10

Born Movie Reviews' Rating: 9/10

CHILDREN OF MEN (2006) - Alfonso Cuarón

Women are infertile. No children. No future. No hope. The grim reality of extinction is approaching. The future is just a thing of the past. For the last one to die, please turn out the light...

The year is 2027, in which two decades of human infertility have left society on the brink of collapse. Only the United Kingdom prevailed as the last functioning government in the world. But with the ongoing growth of illegal immigrants, the land has become severely militarized, imposing oppressive immigration laws on refugees. Children of Men revolves around former activist turned cynical bureaucrat Theo Faron (Clive Owen), who one day is kidnapped by a militant immigrants' rights group called the Fishes. He is then asked to help a West African refugee escape the country, said to be the key to the future, only to find out later that the female is inconceivably pregnant.

With every single character internalized in this fictional yet frighteningly realistic universe, all performances in the cast were compelling, from Clive Owen's lead performances to supporting acts from Julianne Moore and even Michael Caine.

For sure, the United Kingdom is no place to live in in this timeline. It is almost as if director Cuarón received permision to blow up London, leaving the entire place into ruins. The art direction in this film is so exquisitely crafted that for every second, I believed that this is a real apocalyptic future that humanity might end up approaching towards. The film even opens with the news broadcasting the death of the world's youngest person, age 18.

Children of Men boldly goes back to traditional filmmaking and storytelling, in which Cuarón pulls a Hitchcock, using a MacGuffin to keep the audience interested. In case you are unfamiliar with the term MacGuffin, it is a plot device in a film, and can be in the form of a character's goal, a desired object, or any other cause that motivates the characters to do what they do. However, there is intentionally little to no narrative explanation as to why the MacGuffin is so important. Here, in Children of Men, the narrative never explains to us why children stopped being born, or how the West African refugee became pregnant again. In agreeing with Roger Ebert, it is merely a tool used "to avoid actual politics while showing how the world is slipping away from civility and co-existence."

This film, without a doubt, has one of the most unique cinematography in filmmaking history. Cuarón is best known for doing long single takes, and here, he does not shy away, but instead brings the reality of the shabby world. There is a shot that lasts more than three minutes where the camera goes in and out of a car. Another shot goes from the street to the inside of a building, up the stairs, and goes on without cutting away for more than five minutes. Even if the filmmakers used CG to fuse several shots together, the final product evokes a unique emotion to the viewer. Incredible.

Children of Men is an incredibly thematic film, served as both a dystopian thriller and a cautionary tale, exploring themes of hope, faith, chance, and religion. Unlike other films that are flooded with exposition and back-story, Cuarón takes a unique turn of narrative, making the climax open-ended and filling the plot with metaphors. If you're an optimistic person, you will see hope in the film. If you're bleak, you see complete hopelessness.

In conclusion, Children of Men is Alfonso Cuarón's crown jewel, one of the greatest dystopic future films ever made. With thought-provoking themes, incredibly long single takes, and political warnings, the film works as a chase thriller, a drama, and a warning to human society today. Infertility might not be a possible tragedy for us, but the chaos and corruption that follows it is definitely possible. To quote Roger Ebert, this is a film about "a world ending not with a bang but a whimper. The only thing we will have to fear in the future is the past itself. Our past. Ourselves."

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