Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Children of Men

"Children of Men" (dir. Alfonso Cuarón, UK/USA, 2006, 109 mins.) The best and worst aspect (other than it's DULL poster!) of this cinematic marvel from Alfonso Cuaron ("Y Tu Mama Tambien", "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" and "The Little Princess"), is it's mind blowing visual style. I became so engrossed in the physical technique of the extremely long takes and what must have been the nightmare logistics of staging them, that I was distracted from the story, which in itself is a complicated affair of political deception and revolution. Not since Sokurov's "Russian Ark" have I been left out of breath by a single take! There are chase and attack sequences that are so stunningly and precisely staged and photographed that it puts Spielberg to shame. However, with all that said about the technical virtuosity of the project, I was still caught in awe during the 'climax'! In the midst of the battles, the chases, the explosions, Cuaron still maintains enough control on the piece to bring it to an inspiring, if not nearly religious halt.

Set in London in 2027, the production design avoids the 'Bladerunner' trap and realistically creates a world not so advanced from our present generation, but a world whose infrastructure has begun to decay. There are a FEW gadgets around indicating technological advancement, however, the situation that the world finds itself in (a 20 year old worldwide virus has made women infertile) has literally stopped time in its tracks. It is nearly a thematic and visual breakthrough for Cuaron who has been involved with adolescent themes and fantasias for the past few years, in that this film is a world completely void of children and their influence. (It opens with the announcement that the youngest person alive has died at age 18.)

The performances are understated and incredible considering the technical obstacles the cast must have faced during the lengthy takes. Clive Owen and Julianne Moore are their professional selves. However, it is Michael Caine and Pam Ferris who steal their scenes with an uncanny ability to be IN that future world by tapping into the nostalgia of the past before the virus.

I could go on for PAGES, but I don't want to over extend expectations nor give any more spoilers away than what is already 'out there'. I will leave it at that I can't say it enough: "Children of Men" is breathtaking on so many levels, I can not wait to see it again and explore it further!