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Children of Men April 13, 2007

Posted by Sai in English, Movies, Reviews.

A dark, absorbing thriller about an intriguing, dystopian future. Hopefully, one that we won’t be seeing.

2027. It has been eighteen years since the birth of a child on the planet. Most of humankind has given up while a few still have hope. As the death of the youngest person on the planet, an 18-year old, is causing further depression around the world, Theo is contacted by his ex-wife Julian. Julian is the leader of a terrorist group fighting for immigrants and she requests him to arrange a travel permit for an African refugee called Kee. Theo obliges for a certain amount of money and it becomes necessary that he travels with Kee. Soon after these three begin their journey along with Miriam (later revealed to be a midwife) and Luke (Julian’s second in command), Julian is killed while Kee is taken to a safe house. Kee reveals to Theo that she is eight months pregnant and that Julian asked her to trust no one other than Theo. Theo, meanwhile, realises that Luke and his group have plans to use the birth of Kee’s child for the benefit of their terrorist outfit and that they had indeed killed Julian. Theo takes upon himself the task of saving Kee and her child by delivering her to the Human Project where her safety is assured.

This film is based on a novel by P.D. James titled ‘The Children of Men’ published in 1992. A lot of times, films based on novels depend more on the original material for the impact. In this case however, rather than the screenplay it is director Alfonso Cuarón’s work that makes you feel what words might have a tough time expressing. Cuarón (Y tu mamá también, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) creates some brilliant visuals with the aid of cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki and these are the main draw for this film.

Fantasy in the form of an unbelievable and unlikely yet potent situation is quite nicely amalgamated into the thriller format while also making social commentary as it goes along. Though this situation of mass infertility is imaginary, Cuarón and his co-writers (Timothy Sexton, David Arata, Mark Fegus and Hawk Ostby) entice your mind and start to make you wonder how the world would react to such a thing. It goes without saying that Cuarón and his team have taken good care to ensure that despite all the ruins, we don’t forget the fact that the film is taking place in the future. There are some nice touches that you might miss if you aren’t watching carefully. The sound effects and foley work also enhance the overall impact.

Clive Owen (Inside Man, Sin City, Closer) as Theo Faron isn’t the suave and charming hero that we are used to seeing in such thrillers. Instead, he is a former activist whose life has changed since the death of his child. He has lost hope but the discovery of Kee thrusts him into the role of a hero who is trying to save the only hope for humanity. Owen does really well as the reluctant savior and makes it work. Julianne Moore gets a very short role and has no time to make an impression. Michael Caine is getting into the habit of playing these interesting supporting parts and he’s making the best of them. Among the lesser known cast members, newcomer Claire-Hope Ashitey gets the important role of Kee and she feels the part while Chiwetel Ejiofor as Luke (Inside Man, Love Actually) and Pam Ferris as Miriam (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Matilda) get shorter but essential parts to play.

That Cuarón leaves an impact is evident from the fact that most viewers forget the familiar formula underneath this thriller (a man saving a woman and her baby against all odds while those who aid him in the task keep dying along the way). Compare it to another similar thriller in recent times, Blood Diamond, and this film shows you how to do it in style without losing any impact. Though this isn’t a commercial entertainer that would appeal to a larger section of the audience, this movie gets it right where that one goes wrong and is recommended to those who are looking for a dark thriller woven around a fascinating premise.

Watch this film for a lesson in visual filmmaking.



1. Shujath - April 14, 2008

I was so glued to the screen watching this. I’ve seen other dystopian flicks before but don’t remember any one of them having such a great impact.

The camerawork is unbelievable. How could they manage those long single-take sequences!!! Like you said, this is truly a lesson in visual filmmaking.

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