Saturday, April 07, 2007

Children of Men

Children of Men (Alfonson Curon, 2006) [9]
It's sometime in the near future and the entire world in a disintegrating chaos. Women have become infertile. Something akin to a fascist police state has been set up, with the forced relocation and torture of illegal aliens. Through all this, a young woman has mysteriously become pregnant and an unsuspecting man is thrust into a situation to save the future of mankind. That's essentially the plot of Children of Men, and while story and ideas-wise, it leaves a few holes, there is no doubt that Alfonso Curon's latest effort is dazzling filmmaking. I really don't want this review to get into nitpicking political viewpoints and ideas, of myself and the film, mostly because the film's politics exist in some cloudy middle. Curon's source material, a novel of the same name by P.D. James is a right-wing Christian allegory. Curon twists the notions present, most notably the idea of the miracle birth, but skews the perspective to reflect a more modern reflexive allegory. The political ideology to me is a bit confusing. For instance, the importance of the miracle birth is never really explained in depth for me to really get an idea of its importance. Why the character of Theo is chosen for his path also has questions; he clearly has no political motivations, and that may be the point. The world the film is thrown into is in total chaos, and that may be purposeful. It's a society so far down into chaos and beyond repair, that any clear definition of politics or a worldview may be impossible to find.

Sometimes, holes in a film's story can be overlooked. The sheer breath of Curon's filmmaking here is enough to outshine any lingering questions I may have had. Emmanuel Lubezki's cinematography is absolutely perfect, dark and devoid of color but still striking. The world that Curon has created is perfect in portraying a world that has no future. One quick scene sums it up: a spot of graffiti says, "Last one to die turn out the lights." Curon shows a huge amount of virtuosity but never lets it get too showy. It took me until almost the end, at the refugee camp, to realize how long Curon's takes were, and how seamless and perfect they worked, especially when Theo is following after Kee in the camp. The camerawork never overshadows what's happening in the film; in fact, I feel it intensifies the action, making a more thrilling film. The performances are solid without being showy or spectacular, most notably Clive Owen and Michael Caine. This is the most skillfully made film of 2006 and will definitely have a place near the top of my list (which should be almost finalized sometime soon).

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