Vamshidhar Kommineni

December 26, 2006

Movie Review: Children of Men

Filed under: Uncategorized — Vamshi @ 10:21 pm

Rating: 4 stars
Link to Ebert’s review
Link to Rotten Tomatoes’ review aggregation
Link to IMDB

How would the world be if there was no possibility of survival for the human race within a finite period of time? This is the essential question posed by Children of Men. The year is 2027 and no human being has been born on the planet since 2009. Why this is the case is not explained, nor is it really central to the movie. The movie centers around the question above and uses a single pregnant woman (an illegal immigrant in Britain) trying to find passage to the "Human Project" (another organization that receives scant explanation except as end goal) and the people who would help her get there vs the people who would use for political ends as the drivers of the plot.

This is a good movie with the cinematography being the highlight. It is directed by Alfonso Cuaron (he of Y Tu Mama Tambien fame) and camera work is done by Emmanuel Lubezki (who has some impressive cinematography to his credit). In contrast to the rich, lush colors of The New World (also shot by Lubezki), this is a gray, post apocalyptic world made more so by the palette of colors used and the many hand held shots that work well rather than irritate. You have to see it to appreciate it.

The other central thread in the movie is that of immigration policies. In the movie’s world, Britain has survived after a fashion amidst a crumbling world by isolating itself, closing its borders and gathering up all illegal immigrants ("fugies", short for fugitives). This is obviously a subject close to the director’s heart and chillingly depicted in the rounding up of fugies into cages and housed in "refugee camps" in appalling conditions. It forces you to ask yourself the questions about where we are in our current society (the attitudes towards Mexican immigrants in the US or Muslim immigrants in Europe) and where we are headed. In a sly reference to our society, the British government organization that operates the illegal immigrant internment camps is called Homeland Security.

<Warning: spoiler alert> Two scenes in this movie elevate it to 4 stars from 3.5 and make it a must watch. The depiction of the ghetto in which the fugies are housed is almost a future imagined version of the Jewish ghettos as they must have been in World War II. It looks and feels like the descriptions and depictions from the countless World War II books and movies, and is a frightening window into how such atrocities might be committed again in the "civilized" world. The other scene is the long tracking shot involving the baby being carried out past the both the rebel fighters and the government soldiers. Observe the use of sound and the human expressions in this scene.

Another interesting thing I found is how the hero of the movie, Clive Owen (an always underrated actor) never picks up a gun in the entire movie. Not once amidst all the shooting and killing.

This isn’t a perfect movie and the plot does wander at times and leaves too many things unexplained. But it is one of the year’s best movies nevertheless. Watch the movie in the theater if possible for dramatic effect. The turnout was surprisingly good for Christmas evening yesterday.

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