Cert: 15 Runtime: 109 mins Director: Alfonso Cuarón Cast: Clive Owen, Julianne Moore, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Clare-Hope Ashitey and Michael Caine
As the sound of the playgrounds faded, the despair set in. Very odd, what happens in a world without children’s voices
With Gravity coming out this week, I thought I would review Children of Men. This comes from the genius that is Alfonso Cuarón, the man behind Gravity and Harry Potter: The Prisoner of Azkaban. I stumbled upon Children of Men by chance a few years ago, I must say it has always left a lasting impression with me. Set in 2027, when no child has been born for 18 years and science is at loss to explain the reason, African and East European societies collapse and their dwindling populations migrate to England and other wealthy nations. In a climate of nationalistic violence, a London peace activist turned bureaucrat Theo Faron (Clive Owen), joins forces with his revolutionary ex-wife Julian (Julianne Moore) in order to save mankind by protecting a woman (Clare-Hope Ashitey) who has mysteriously became pregnant.
Although the camera work and cinematography is nothing short of stunning the focus always with our protagonist, ensuring we’re kept in the middle of the action throughout. It is also undoubtedly one of Owen’s finest performances to date. Theo is never far from danger yet he struggles on with convincing dignity. Occasionally baffled but far from stupid – Theo is essentially a reckless, underplayed action hero that doesn’t jump at every opportunity to arm himself with a gun. This works well with the international ensemble of incredible talent: Michael Caine’s charming pot dealing hippie, feisty Julianne Moore, key role Claire-Hope Ashitey, the wonderful Pam Ferris, the increasingly busy, excellent Chiwetel Ejiofor, Danny Huston and writer/director/producer Peter Cullen (gloriously sadistic Syd) to name a few… This is surely a casting coup to be jealous of.The episodic nature of the story makes Children of Men difficult to place into one genre alone. Briefly glimpsed futuristic sci-fi technology is grounded in reality and looks entirely achievable while grey, graffiti ridden concrete locations provide an excellent backdrop for the near satirical look of our current social and political climate.
There’s poignant drama interspersed amongst exhilarating action and yet enough twists to call it a thriller. This is not to say it’s flawless. Some exposition is handled better in places than others for instance. However Alfonso Cuarón has achieved a completely remarkable experience. Arguably the film could have been longer given how strong most of it is. The only really hard pill to swallow is the comedy juxtaposed with some stark imagery that looks all too familiar to anyone who has ever seen the News from the past few decades. Nice to see a Pink Floyd reference though (pigs might fly!), and someone finally found a use for Battersea Power Station.Ideally an audience should see this film with no preconceptions and know as little about the plot as possible. It must be said – Children of Men is a cinematic milestone. Great special effects and an effective soundtrack accompany this heartfelt, moving and thought-provoking film. Easily one of the best films in recent memory.