Children Of Men

Film Review by Jeffrey Winters

“Children of Men,” is directed by Alfonso Cuaron the Mexican director who made the sexy 2001 film “Y Tu Mamba Tambien,” and the best liked Harry Potter film, “The Prisoner of Askaban.” He is incredibly skilled and takes this bleak and grey toned story and infuses it with visual techniques such as single shot that lasts several minutes without a cut. He and his editor Alex Rodriquez rightly received the Academy Award nomination for editing.

The story is adapted from a P.D. James novel. We are immediately told that the world has become infertile and a baby has not been born in twenty seven years. Almost every country is in ruins. Britain is nearly in chaos, kept together by a military totalitarian government.

Julianne Moore plays rebel leader Julian. She kidnaps her ex-husband Theo (Clive Owen) to help her group called “Fish” transport an 18 year old girl who is pregnant. The significance of this pregnancy is profound. The new baby will help the uprising, bring back hope and a sense of renewal to the consciousness of humankind.

The pregnant mother Kee is in her eighth month. Kee is played by Clare-Hope Ashitey. She is a dark skinned refugee at a time when Britain is in the process of deporting or caging all refugees. Once Theo (Owen) gets involved, he is chased by both government soldiers and Fish terrorists. His only temporary refuge is his old buddy Jasper (Michael Caine) who lives hidden in the woods growing and selling pot. Caine has long hair and a hippie attitude of rebellion and indifference. Most important, he adds a few jokes and light minutes to a very intense film.

“Children of Men” is a good example of simple storytelling in which the protagonists Theo and Kee have to get from point A (death) to point B

(a group of humans trying to save the planet). There are no parallel story lines or constantly evolving character studies. Director Cuaron moves the story with a fierce intensity and focus.

The scenes of the army clearing out buildings of foreigners deliberately replicates in brutal close up detail what it must be like for our soldiers in Iraq. Without the sanitized TV versions we get everyday, it looks scary and horrifying to go through buildings while being shot at and shooting back. It is a nightmare and Owens has the skill to look numb while registering determination and horror. Clive Owen is an excellent actor. Like his director Cuaron, he improves with each film.

I think at least two of the films nominated by the Academy for Best Film, “Little Miss Sunshine,” and “The Queen” don’t deserve nomination. It is a weak year for great film but a strong year for performances. In “Children of Men,” you will see some of the best and most creative cinematography. Emmanuel Lubezki is up for the Best Cinematography award. The editing in this movie is very tight, enabling the story to flow. It is a bleak but fluid film.

“Children of Men” is a violent and severe film. Some people will love this film. For others it may be just too heavy. Like “Babel” it has moments of real discomfort. I think it is worth experiencing. Fear is a political tool often used to hypnotize. This film goes from fear to human numbness to hope. What a ride.