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Children of Men

A movie directed by Alfonso Cuaron

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One of the Most Important Films in Recent Years

  • Mar 29, 2007
  • by
Rating:
+5
CHILDREN OF MEN is a masterpiece of cinematic artistry. Director Alfonso Cuarón, using a screenplay he co-wrote with Timothy J. Sexton, has done what few artists have been able to achieve before - create an apocalyptic experience that is almost devoid of extraneous material meant to terrify the audience and focused the worst of unthinkable events into a personal story about a few people. Oh, the global destruction and masses of dead humanity are not kept from our eyes, but instead Cuarón uses these horrid images as a background for a story about the changes than can occur in each of us when our souls and lives are challenged by extinction.

The story is set in 2027 and the only country that has survived some unnamed disaster is England (importantly, the only country without a constitution, maintaining its governance on history). The landscape is bleak, twisted, filthy and holds scattered cages of fugitives (immigrants from the countries no longer in existence): it is difficult to decide which is better, being dead or living in this heinous mess of a wasted world. Society is on the brink of extinction as the people are infertile and the youngest living person has just died. We meet Theo Faron (Clive Owen), a drunken bored disillusioned detritus of a man whose early years were alive with political activism. He loathes his meaningless job and he is bitter and utterly disillusioned and emotionally numb. A group called 'Angels' is lead by Julian Taylor (Julianne Moore), Theo's former significant other with whom he had a child that died of influenza, and Luke (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and their work is the protection of immigrants as well as transporting a young black girl Kee (Claire-Hope Ashitey) who happens to be pregnant(!) to a sea spot where Human Project will aid her in propagating a new society. Julian has Theo captured (he is the only man she can truly trust) to handle the safe transportation of Kee to the Human Project.

Theo at first refuses to absorb this new direction but incidents occur which change his mind: he receives sound advice and encouragement from an old hippie friend Jasper (Michael Caine) and the trek begins. The bond between Kee and Theo is an increasingly strong one and as they follow directions that are in code they gradually discover the incentives of various people to follow the eventual birth of the first child to be born in eighteen years. The trip is harrowing, suspenseful, filled with psychological and philosophical implications, and the ending of this tale occurs in the foggy mists of the sea aboard a tiny boat - a place that has no roots.

Clive Owen is mesmerizing in this tough role and his support from Moore, Caine, Ejiofor, Ashitey, as well as smaller roles played by such fine actors as Charlie Hunnam, Pam Ferris, Danny Huston, Peter Mullan, Oana Pellea and Jacek Koman to mention only a few is on the highest level. The cinematography by Emmanuel Lubezki is miraculous, capturing a strange world that seems very real yet not absurdly over the edge. Classical composer John Tavener (with help from Mahler, Penderecki, and others) finds just the right balance between old folk songs, contemporary requiem moments and excerpts from popular music of the past to mold a fascinating musical score: it works! Some may avoid this film because of the apparent disturbing content, but for this viewer this film speaks so cogently to the matters we should all heed to help reverse some of the destruction we have done to our world that it would be hard to imagine this film not changing people's views on immigration as an example of how confused is our sense of humanity, and that is only one issue before us. CHILDREN OF MEN is an instant classic, whether we like it or not. Highly Recommended. Grady Harp, March 07

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More Children of Men reviews
review by . December 02, 2009
Apparently I love Alfonso Cuaron, who directed both this and Y Tu Mama Tambien (as well as the third Harry Potter film). And, in many ways, I like both films for similar reasons: they work on the superficial genre level as well as on deeper intellectual and symbolic levels. Children of Men is an effective science fiction action movie as well as a stellar vision of dystopia, while also serving as religious metaphor, warning of fascism, and the old adage to beware becoming your enemy in order to defeat …
review by . May 04, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
At first, this film seemed to be a sci-fi film noire in the mold of Blade Runner. It portrays a dystopian society in which women lack fertility. Indeed, unlike a lot of sci-fi films nowadays, "Children of Men" does not shy away from making dystopia realistic and grisly. Key characters are killed suddenly, the color palate is mainly grey, and all of the key characters have traits that make them less than admirable. In one chilling scene, an important character is last shown being taken away by troops …
review by . March 06, 2009
I put this DVD in my home theater with surround-sound and must admit that the last 20 minutes of this movie, I literally felt transported into the screen. The effects are that good as well as frightening. The scene called "ceasefire" was gut-wrenchingly poignant. Now to the movie. It was pretty good though not as great as the critics seemed to say. The plot was a little difficult to understand. It appears that Britain in this wacky future world is the only "intact" country remaining after world-wide …
review by . November 17, 2008
Y2K twenty seven   The world is a mess   How things got this bad   Is anyone's guess     Nations are divided   By fighting and hate   But Britain still stands,   A dystopian state     Women are infertile   No patter of feet   Policemen hunt refugees   Right in the street     Clive Owen is brilliant   Perfect for the role   Entangled …
review by . January 09, 2008
Children of Men is one of those rare apocalyptic movies that stimulates apprehension from the first frame. I can't say that watching it was an enjoyable or entertaining experience for me. It sets up a depressingly filthy, hopeless world that makes you want to drench yourself under a hot shower. Visually stunning, atmospherically bleak, teetering on the edge of terror, Children certainly makes its point with undeniable force and immediacy. It was only a day or so after seeing this film that I felt …
review by . June 13, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: Amazing film, wonderful cast, gorgeously depicted from start to finish      Cons: Hopeful yet inconclusive ending, pacing, predictable moments      The Bottom Line: The bottom line is fit for hopscotch. "Children of Men" is an amazing achievement in today's typically shallow spread of films.      Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie's plot. "As the sound of the playgrounds faded, …
review by . June 13, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: Film is great at creating a grimy mood      Cons: The story is created of plotholes--it is the afterbirth of a better film      The Bottom Line: It sucks whatever nasty thing you want to think of and it still isn't even bad enough to be a cult film.      Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie''s plot.      Ordinarily I stay away from reviewing something that has more than …
review by . May 01, 2007
I wouldn't say this is the best movie I've ever seen, but its close. The enthusiasm of many of the reviews of this picture is entirely justified. Though it is unlikely to make anyone feel 'good', it will offer a thought provoking and chillingly plausible vision of a world sliding into despair. The pseudo-documentary camera work is slightly jarring at times, but lends further weight to the film's sense of being grounded in a realist tradition.    The most outstanding thing in …
review by . April 19, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
I put this DVD in my home theater with surround-sound and must admit that the last 20 minutes of this movie, I literally felt transported into the screen. The effects are that good as well as frightening. The scene called "ceasefire" was gut-wrenchingly poignant. Now to the movie. It was pretty good though not as great as the critics seemed to say. The plot was a little difficult to understand. It appears that Britain in this wacky future world is the only "intact" country remaining after world-wide …
About the reviewer
Grady Harp ()
Ranked #97
Grady Harp is a champion of Representational Art in the roles of curator, lecturer, panelist, writer of art essays, poetry, critical reviews of literature, art and music, and as a gallerist. He has presented … more
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Presenting a bleak, harrowing, and yet ultimately hopeful vision of humankind's not-too-distant future,Children of Menis a riveting cautionary tale of potential things to come. Set in the crisis-ravaged future of 2027, and based on the atypical 1993 novel by British mystery writer P.D. James, the anxiety-inducing, action-packed story is set in a dystopian England where humanity has become infertile (the last baby was born in 2009), immigration is a crime, refugees (or "fugees") are caged like animals, and the world has been torn apart by nuclear fallout, rampant terrorism, and political rebellion. In this seemingly hopeless landscape of hardscrabble survival, a jaded bureaucrat named Theo (Clive Owen) is drawn into a desperate struggle to deliver Kee (Clare-Hope Ashitey), the world's only pregnant woman, to a secret group called the Human Project that hopes to discover a cure for global infertility. As they carefully navigate between the battling forces of military police and a pro-immigration insurgency, Theo, Kee, and their secretive allies endure a death-defying ordeal of urban warfare, and director Alfonso Cuaron (with cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki) capture the action with you-are-there intensity. There's just enough humor to balance the film's darker content (much of it coming from Michael Caine, as Theo's aging hippie cohort), and althoughChildren of Menglosses over many of the specifics about its sociopolitical worst-case scenario ...
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Details

Director: Alfonso Cuarón
Genre: Action, Adventure
DVD Release Date: May 26, 2009
Runtime: 109 minutes
Studio: Universal Studios Home Entertainment, Universal Studios
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