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Monday, November 06, 2006

Alfonso Cuaron's 'Children of Men'

Children of Men poster

Alfonso Cuaron's dystopic, post-apocalyptical sci-fi Children of Men, starring Clive Owen and Julianne Moore, is unlike most sci-fi films. While it takes place in 2027, the world in that film is very much like ours right now, just perhaps with larger LCD screens, and well, more chaotic, with London city itself becoming a warzone. No flying cars, no fancy technology gadgets, no holographic images, or skyscrapers that reach the skies, thus making the film disturbingly realistic, and plausible.

Clive Owen and Julianne Moore chilling out in a bus in Children of MenPlausible as in watching the world plummeting into chaos when all women in the world became infertile for 18 years, with the youngest person in the world getting murdered for refusing to sign autographs. In the film, all cities around the world (and YES, Kuala Lumpur gets a mention!) have fallen, except for London, though it was pretty much a hellhole.

Theodore Faron (Clive Owen) is a jaded former activist who agrees to help his former lover, Julian Taylor (Julianne Moore), leader of a resistant group (also regarded as terrorists) to transport a miraculously pregnant woman, Kee (Claire-Hope Ashitey) to a sanctuary at sea, avoiding the numerous parties from different sides who attempt to get hold of the pregnant woman. The setup's really kinda like Casablanca, which I never noticed until reading a review on IMDB.

I went to see this film with my flatmate, Duane, and we were both enjoyed the film immensely, and he would've thanked me, if the film weren't so depressing, which it is, however, it does have moments of humour, mostly responsible from Theodore's deadpan sarcasm and his wacky aged hippie friend, Jasper Palmer (Michael Caine), who looks like an old John Lennon (Caine was referencing John Lennon for the role, apparently).

This film is very gritty, and the battle scene towards the end of the film, where the city of London itself has erupted into a full-scale battle is particularly jaw-dropping and intense like hell (it's immersive, with the use of prolonged handheld shots, which almost felt like the entire scene was shot with one take). It's definitely one of the finest action thrillers I've seen this year.

Clive Owen is hell intense in Children of MenClive Owen, whom I've gradually liked since watching Closer and his BMW short films, is proving that he's one hell of an actor (oh, and he's awesome in this year's Inside Man too), who brings gravitas in a role that would've been otherwise 2-dimensional if done by a lesser actor, or if the film had been done by a lesser director.

Alfonso Cuaron is best-known, of course, for directing Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, which, in my opinion, is the most distinctive Harry Potter film in the series due to his personal style. I remembered defending it in a message forum when some hardcore Harry Potter fan complained about his adaptation, saying that it was too 'dark', and the creative liberties he took were 'stupid'. Well, THAT reinforce my personal principle of never ever comparing a film with its source material, because it's unfair, and I always can't help but resist the temptation of smacking someone hard in the face when the someone complains about a film not being a 'faithful enough adaptation'.

Anyway, this really isn't about Harry Potter, but Alfonso Cuaron, who is now regarded as one of Mexico's 'Big Three' directors (along with Guillermo Del Toro and Alejandro González Iñárritu), being a hell great director with vision, distinctive style and sheer awesomeness in staging massively mindblowing battle scenes yet still being compelling at the same time by making me care for the characters (very unlike the Michael Bays or Brett Ratners-type).

Yup, highly recommended for those looking for an intelligent, throught-provoking film (well, I DID feel a little disturbed by the possibilities of women becoming completely infertile one day, not that I'm desperate for kids, but if something like that would happen, I'll be scared like hell, knowing that the end of humanity is near), and even those looking for explosions and intense action scenes. Been a while since I've actually enjoyed an action thriller.

Swifty's text message to half a world away: "Hey, I saw Children of Men. Clive Owen rules!"
Text message from half a world away to Swifty: "Yep, Children of Men is a good film, I teared up when [Swifty: A particular scene towards the end which I will not reveal as my film reviews are generally spoiler-free]."

The less you know about this film, the better.

Related Reviews:

The Sensintrovert: The Children of Men: "7 Years after 2020, Kuala Lumpur Will Be Up In Ashes"
Before he put in his spoiler warning, I, very unfortunately, read a major spoiler on Howsy's positive review, thus slightly negating some surprises I would've had during an unexpected death scene. He gave it 8 out of 10.

Moment To Moment: Children of Men
Kate likes it too, and I definitely agree with her when she says that it's better than V For Vendetta (which, until this very day, left me befuddled why some people would consider it a major life-altering experience, when to me, it's just an average film).

World in Progress: Children of Men
Jean Prouvaire's (cool name) review pays quite a lot of attention on the production design, which is entirely deserving, seriously. Also a (somewhat) positive review.

Related Videos:

Children of Men trailer