Saturday, October 28, 2006

Children of Men (2006), dir. Alfonso Cuaron

I’m not normally one for being nationalistic, but when it comes to dystopian future fantasies, no one does ‘em quite like us Brits. From George Orwell’s classic Nineteen Eighty-Four through Terry Gilliam’s 1985 film Brazil the pattern continues with Alfonso Cuaron’s Children of Men. I know what you’re thinking, "Neither Terry Gilliam nor Alfonso Cuaron are British!" But their respective efforts were both developed and filmed in this country… so there!

Children of Men is based on a P.D James novel set in the not too distant future where Britain is a police state and immigrants are second class citizens being loaded into camps; fallout from war and massive pollution mean everything is covered in a perpetual smog; worst of all the human race is dying out because women have lost the ability to have babies.

This is superior mainstream filmmaking, in a similar vein to Cuaron’s work on Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, still the best of the Potter films to date. Although Children of Men is more adult as fits the tone of the issues it address. One would like to see a great deal more of this from Hollywood, the story is driven by a genuinely interesting central idea with interesting characters and a narrative that involves several unexpected twists and turns, along with the added spice of a topical edge.

It still fits in enough set pieces to satiate even the most hardened thrill seeker, the hardened action often resembles Saving Private Ryan. Something achieved through audacious single camera takes, which place the viewer right in the middle of whatever is going on, in a very visceral way.

An added bonus is the performance of Michael Caine who is on top form playing an aged hippie who offers advice and levity to a brow-beaten Clive Owen. Highly recommended.