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|Children of Men
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E
dir Alfonso Cuaron
scr Alfonso Cuaron, Timothy J Sexton, David Arata, Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby
with Clive Owen, Julianne Moore, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Caine, Claire-Hope Ashitey, Pam Ferris, Charlie Hunnam, Peter Mullan, Danny Huston, Jacek Koman, Oana Pellea, Philippa Urquhart
release UK 22.Sep.06,
06/UK Universal 1h49
Get on the bus: Owen and Moore
Cuaron brings his intelligent and skilfully clever filmmaking style to this adaptation of the futuristic PD James novel, creating a thoroughly involving, exciting and provocative thriller.
In 2027, humans have lost the ability to reproduce. In a London gripped by paranoia about illegal immigrants, the jaded bureaucrat Theo (Owen) is contacted by an old flame (Moore) who works in an underground movement and asks him to help the young Kee (Ashitey), who's the first pregnant woman on earth in nearly 20 years. This launches Theo and Kee on an odyssey filled with activists (Ejiofor, Hunnam and Ferris), old friends (Caine and Huston) and helpful strangers (Mullan, Koman and Pellea). And they're never quite sure who they can trust.
This is a ripper of a story that takes off and only barely pauses for breath along the way. Cuaron's filmmaking style is urgent and raw, rejecting the cliched slickness of most futuristic movies for something much more believable: a London that's even more chaotic, filthy and frenetic than it is now, subtly sprinkled with fascinating new technologies and telling details. But the central focus here is the way this all-too-plausible infertility has drastically altered society.
It's in focussing so tightly on the characters that this film becomes something truly remarkable. And the cast is so strong that we're drawn right into the middle of the events. Owen is at his very best as a tired hero reluctantly dredging up the strength to do the right thing. Everyone around him is riveting--Moore's tough but droll ex, Ejiofor's tenacious rebel, Caine's hairy recluse, Mullan's manic military man. We want more of all of them.
Emmanuel Lubezki's breathtaking, virtuoso camera work gives a wartime verite to the astonishingly complicated long takes and the witty use of settings (spot the Pink Floyd reference). And the script is filled with funny, revelatory, sometimes frightening dialog that often catches us off guard. Cuaron continually jolts us out of our complacency with shocking sequences and resonant themes. And when the people hear the sound of a crying baby, the film becomes a compelling glimpse of hope amid brutality.
Michelle, East London: "This is definitely a different kind of film and it made a refreshing change. It was entertaining, gripping, hardhitting and in some places, rather chucklesome, thanks mainly to Michael Caine. It was nice to see a film that didn't have a moment of boredom and no reaching for the watch was needed. I'd certainly recommend it!" (8.Oct.06)
Thomas Priday, Bristol, United Kingdom: "If I had seen this after I compiled my best of the decade list for the 2000s, I would have gone back and changed it. In fact, I would have made it number one. The world created by Mr Cuaron and his collaborators - dystopia - is so hypnotically calamitous, that I find it hard to write about without prolonging the proceedings. Yet what I find particularly aiding about it is its sparking-humanism and its prevalent depth. A long-take, mise-en-scene film with an earnest ending that fits its pathological existence." (30.Dec.12)
© 2006 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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