No alarms and no surprises, please.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Movie Review - Children of Men

There's already been a lot said about this film. I'm about to add my two cents. I'll skip revealing most the intriguing plot points but I will reveal the main concept behind Children of Men. In the future, there won't be any. No children. None. See, a few years from now, humans lose their ability to procreate. So that by 2027, when the film is set, the youngest person on the planet is 18 years old.

Now *that* is a dystopian future, my friends. Just imagine the implications of that for a minute. Every day, there's fewer people in the world than the day before. There's no future for humanity beyond the current generations. Eventually, there really will be a "last man on earth". Basically the backdrop for the plot is a world drowning in an ocean of nihilism and really not handling it very well at all. There's a scene early in the movie where the main character "Theo" (played by Clive Owen) is riding the train to work and there's a little propagandistic commercial shown on the train showing the chaos in other countries (including a mushroom cloud in New York City) finally with the slogan, "Only Britain Soldiers On!", which begs the question, yet leaves it unanswered, "On to what?"

That's what I found most fascinating about this movie. Alfonso Cuaron created a world where there really is no reason to give a shit about anything. Some folks amble around performing their daily routines while mourning the loss of humanity's future. Some rebel and throw rocks at the trains carrying people to pointless jobs. The people get off these trains and carry their coffee cups past cages filled with illegal aliens being deported, but don't look at them (there is an irrational fear that immigrants brought this infertility disease to Britain's shores). There are advertisements on billboards and TVs throughout the movie, advertising age-defying medicines, as if that will stave off the inevitable and still others for narcotics to numb your brain to a terrifying reality.

The movie's message is simple: humanity needs future generations. It needs the continuity of the human race and it needs hope. And Theo especially needs hope. He's experienced loss beyond that which he shares with humanity and as the movie begins Theo is an empty shell. The movie is about Theo finding a reason to hope. And with that reason, Theo finds a way to give a flying fuck about life again.

The direction itself is amazing, and is filled with gritty documentary-style realism and amazing long single-camera-no-cuts sequences, including one that is shocking and memorable. It makes a rather fantastic premise frighteningly tangible. Cuaron is quite a filmmaker.

In short, I loved this movie on so many levels. It has something to say, and doesn't beat you over the head with 3 minute soliloquies to say it. It's truly fantastic.

Rating: 5 out of 5 possible couches.