Movie #106: Children of Men (2006)

Director: Alfonso Cuaron

Starring: Clive Owen, Julianne Moore, Charlie Hunnam, Michael Caine, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Danny Huston, Clare-Hope Ashitey

Academy Award Nominations (2007):

Best Achievement in Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki

Best Achievement in Editing: Alfonso Cuaron, Alex Rodriguez

Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay: Alfonso Cuaron, Timothy J. Sexton, David Arata, Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby

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It’s 2027, there have been no births worldwide in over 18 years.  The UK is the only country with a functioning government.  It is more of a police state, however, due to the overflow of immigrants fleeing their chaotic home countries.  Theo Faran (Owen), is hired by his estranged ex-wife Julian Taylor (Moore) to help Kee (Ashitey), a young woman who also happens to be pregnant, out of the country.

I thought this film was interesting, and depressing.  Creating this kind of film will win over the critics, but can be off-putting to audiences.  I don’t think this film out-grossed its budget, but it’s an interesting cautionary tale.  Though this movie came out eight years ago, I still get the sense that this world, however unlikely and however bleak, is one possibility.  The film updates the source material, a book of the same name published in 1992, and touches on issues that are still relevant now.

Though I haven’t seen a tremendous sampling of his work, I’ve always been a little put off by Clive Owen as an actor.  I think it’s because he always comes across as the cold, distant, indifferent type of character.  From what I’ve seen, he’s more or less a type-cast with a limited range and appeal.

His temperament as an actor, though, is a strength in this type of film.  He becomes the hero, but still comes across as having a bleak outlook on the world around him.

I enjoyed Chiwetel Ejiofor’s performance as Luke, a leader of the Fishes, an activist group that Julian also belonged to.  He does a good job coming across as an ally but also having ulterior motives.  The only other film I’ve seen him in is Serenity, and he impresses me as an actor.  I need to see some of his more recent stuff.  I’m a bit surprised that Clare-Hope Ashitey hasn’t been in much other than Children of Men.  Her performance was interesting and engaging despite the film’s grim outlook.

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I’m not that big of a fan having Julianne Moore and Michael Caine as the second and third billing.  Their characters, though essential to the story, are much smaller than say, Clare-Hope Ashity or Chiwetel Ejiofor.  I know the bigger names give the film a more legitimate perception, but I’d expect them to have more screen time than they did.

I suppose that’s just me nitpicking.

childrenofmen1The pacing, story, and cinematography all work well for me.  One of the final scenes where everyone sees Kee’s baby, and though they’re in the middle of a major gunfight, they stop fighting long enough for Kee, the baby, and Theo to pass.  I was a bit surprised, though, with what happened after they were through the majority of the fighting.  It was both sad and a little comical all at once.

Children of Men was both sad and enjoyable to watch.  The story isn’t overly drawn out, but still produces some major themes about humanity a complete story.  Any more and it would have started becoming overkill, any less and it would have been incomplete.  Clive Owen excels and has interesting performances from his supporting cast.  It’s not one I’m interested in watching again, but I think it’s one of those you only need to watch once or twice.

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.

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