Monday, October 02, 2006

Children of Men

On Sunday afternoon following a delicious lunch in my favourite restaurant, Tinseltroos and I went to watch "Children of Men". I had vague inkling as to the plot, but had deliberately ignored most of the press and not watched the trailers. I went into the film as fresh and open minded as possible. When I came out I was pretty convinced that I'd just watched the best film of the year and one of the best films I have ever seen. It's a little hard to write this without including spoilers but this I promise I will as I'd hate to ruin anyone else's experience of this amazing piece of cinema.

The plot concerns a very near future, 2027 when the human race has become infertile. Society collapses and whilst shreds of civilisation remain, mob rule and crushing state oppression are the norm. The film is entirely set in the UK, much in London and the rest in the countryside and the south coast. For any inhabitant of London it is an eerie sight to see your city ravaged and yet so startlingly familiar. Cuarón has been very clever with how he has realised the future. In no way is this film science fiction. There are the subtlest cues that the film is not set in the present, much if you were to look at a photo of the city from 1980 you'd recognize it but small things would have changed. In Children of Men the police have a little more armour than they do now, the suburban commuter trains have grilles on the windows (yet Southwest Trains' nasty blue fabric seats remain). It is this familiarity combined with a horrific, but highly plausible future that sets the scene for the drama that unfolds and here I'll stop mentioning the narrative because you must see this film.

The performances are extraordinarily good. Clive Owen takes on the difficult task of playing a leading man who is rather introverted by nature with aplomb, Michael Caine plays his aging hippy friend with a beautiful sense of world-weary optimism and Claire-Hope Ashitey gives a deeply moving and impassioned performance as one of the pivotal characters around whom the plot unfolds. Cuarón allows the characters to breathe without ever letting the relentless pace of the narrative slow. The gritty documentary style suits the subject matter perfectly and the lengthy hand held shots draw the viewer into the action and keep you there. It is one of the most immersive films I can remember. The film is visually stunning, superb costumes and art direction all beautifully lit and photographed by Emmanuel Lubezki.

But it's the power of the story and the depth of the performances that bring it to life and all of this is captured and directed with astonishing skill, imagination and subtlety by the fabulous Alphonso Cuarón. I cry very seldomly. I cry at works of art even more infrequently. I was sobbing uncontrollably in this film. Once it grabs you, it will not let go. I am thankful I have seen one of the great films of our time and cannot help but feel that in years to come Cuarón will be regarded as one of the all-time great directors. This is his best film to date. It is a massive achievement of film-making.


Blogger scruffylooking said...

Oh good. I watched the trailer for this and it looked really good. I'm glad the trailer wasn't deceptive.

4:42 pm  

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