Julian: Y’know that ringing in your ears? That ‘eeeeeeeeee’? That’s the sound of the ear cells dying, like their swan song. Once it’s gone you’ll never hear that frequency again. Enjoy it while it lasts.
See, Bryan and I agree one some things. Children of Men is a truly amazing film. After I saw it the first time, I bought the soundtrack, the score, the book and then I went back to the theater where I worked and watched it again, all in the same day. It’s that good.
Cuaron creates a not-so-distant contemporary dystopian future that is so gritty and visceral, so immediate, it pulls you right into the eye of the storm. He plunges you headlong into a world in decline, without hope, without a future, without children. It’s 2027, the world has gone to shit–plagues, violence, death–and to top it all off, the entire world is inexplicably infertile.
“As the sound of the playgrounds faded, the despair set in. Very odd, what happens in a world without children’s voices.” Children of Men is grounded in a reality so familiar that it’s easy to get caught up in the despair of a world without children. And it’s this brilliant setup of a dreary world that makes it all the more stirring when we finally do glimpse a glimmer of hope.
The cast is amazing. Clive Owen slowly peels back the many layers of protagonist, Theo, as he begrudgingly embarks on his (anti-)hero’s journey and rediscovers his humanity in the process. As Bryan said, Owen’s performance is perfectly subdued, a subtle transformation.
Michael Caine brings both levity and insight to the piece. Chiwetel Ejiofor is excellent, as per usual, as an Ahab-like leader of men doing what he thinks is best for all, flawed but simultaneously sympathetic, to a degree. Julianne Moore also brings her typical A-game. Pam Ferris is particularly noteworthy as new-age, “shanti”-chanting midwife, Miriam. And Peter Mullan steals a few scenes as less-than-law-abiding immigration officer, Syd.
And of course, the camera work is a big standout. With some of the most beautiful long takes ever. Poetry in motion. Cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki out-does himself, not just with length of some of his takes, but with some innovative camera work. The rig he and his team setup to shoot the car ambush is astounding. All in all the film is brilliant, just brilliant.