' Cinema Romantico: Children of Men

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Children of Men

It's one of those infamous apocalyptic worlds of the near future. In this case it is London of the year 2027 and mankind has lost its ability to procreate. As the movie opens the youngest person in the world - baby Diego - has just been killed. "He was a wanker anyway," advises Theo (Clive Owen), our main character. This gives us a quick insight into who this guy is and how he feels.

Theo is summoned to meet with his ex-wife Julian (Julianne Moore) who is a leader of a terrorist group protecting a young woman, Kee, who has miraculously become pregnant. She enlists Theo to help get Kee to the english coast where, in turn, they can get her into the so-called "Human Project", which may or may not exist. At the same time, some of her followers may have other ideas for Kee. And she knows this.

This sets in motion a tense, pulse-pounding (feel free to insert any other adjectives of your choice) race against time in an attempt to get Kee to the coast and away from anyone who may do her harm and/or use her coming child for their own gain.

To say anything story-wise beyond this would be to ruin it and so I will not. But this is an expertly made film. Directory Alfonso Cuaron films many of his action sequences in long, unbroken camera shots which only serve to heighten the intensity. There were several instances in which I had no choice but to grip the side of my theater chair as it became almost unbearable.

The film thankfully stays clear of any inane explanations of anything. It is not interested in how the world got to where it is. No reasons are given as to why no one can procreate, and that is just as it should be. No one pauses to engage in backstory for the audience's conveinence. At one point Theo asks Juliann, "Were your parents in New York when it happened?" What was "it", exactly? They don't say and they wouldn't because they - meaning the characters - already know. That's how you write dialogue.

One would also expect everyone to pause between trying to save Kee's life to ruminate philosophically and thus deliver the message of the film to us in a neat package. But you would be wrong. Much like Leonardo DiCaprio in "Blood Diamond", the characters here develop via their decisions - Theo in particular. He is not sketched as a valorous over-the-top hero but as a guy who ends up having to take on an immense task and growing as he carries it out.

Alternately terrifying and thrilling, "Children of Men" is one of the best movies this year.

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