CHILDREN OF MEN
Molly and I finally saw this yesterday afternoon. We had anxiously been waiting for it to come out for months now. I even bought her P.D. James's novel to hold us over. Except the movie took the basic premise of the book, that for twenty years our world is without childbirth, down a much darker and more urgent path.
The first scene of the film, which is a part of the collection at the end of this post, is a single-take of our main character, Theo, getting a cup of coffee. As he enters the coffee shop, packed to the brim with people, he notices the televisions broadcasting the death of Baby Diego. Baby Diego, who was a few months past his 18th birthday, was the last baby ever born in the whole world. Most of the people inside the coffee shop are crying and covering their faces to hide the sadness, but not Theo...he mindlessly grabs his coffee and heads down to the newspaper machine on the corner. Not ten seconds after leaving the shop, a huge explosion blasts the entire place into a cloud of dust! The screen goes black, and with the arrival of the white letters, CHILDREN OF MEN begins.
You see, a world where there will be no future generations isn't an ideal way of life. The world has gone to shit, and England (where the entire story takes place) is a habor that kicks any and all immigrants to the curb. The UK is basically a prison where no one enters or leaves without a great deal of scrutiny. Which is exactly why Theo's ex-wife, Julian choses Theo to help a girl escape the country. Theo has connections, but does he have the interest?
Theo's best friend, Jasper (played perfectly by Sir Michael Caine) is a pot smoking, fart-filled hippy living in the woods. He lives life like there's nothing to worry about, whereas Theo seems to have the weight of the world on his shoulders. But perhaps there's a bit of hope left? Perhaps, Theo still has a longing for his ex-wife and her radical political agenda? So, ultimately he decides to help out Julian and escort Kee (who is somehow pregnant) to the "Human Project" which is a group trying to save humanity.
From this moment on, Children of Men becomes a chase picture. Theo and Kee flee from one dangerous situation to another. The pace rarely slows and the camerawork will leave you on the edge of your seat. Alfonso Cuaron has outdone himself with using so many long, uninterupted takes. You get a sense of realisim that elevates already tense surroundings to an even higher degree. People die right in front of you, blood splatters onto the camera lense and stays there until the end of the shot, numerous explosions and bullets fly in all different directions...you will be winded just sitting in the theater watching it all.
The only criticism I've read about the film is that it doesn't answer the questions it produces. Who are the Human Project? Why can't we make any more babies? To worry about that is to miss the point. In fact, in numerous interviews, Cuaron dismisses the criticism easily. The only reason the film takes place in the future is because the premise takes us 20 years from now. It's not Sc-Fi, it's grounded and dirty and taking the very themes of our daily lives into a new setting. Who cares why we can't have children, what interests him is what would our lives be like dealing with that dilemma. Would we turn on each other, fight and devour the ones still alive? Or would we manage to find hope? Those are the themes he needed to create this masterpiece for...not to bog it down with explanations and "happy endings."
Here's a couple clips that should give you a taste of what amazing camerawork you'll experience in Children of Men...
at 1:20 PM