Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Just Don't Think About It.

Children Of Men is a film that I really, really wanted to see when it was out in cinemas. It had good reviews, I love the director, I love Julianne Moore, it looked interesting, the word of mouth I heard was great. Even though I've never been a huge Clive Owen fan, I wanted to see it, and it's always remained high on my list, though for some reason I never got around to seeing it.

Interestingly, director Alfonso Cuarón is also my primary reason for, one day, wanting to watch the Harry Potter series. But that's for another time (probably when I've actually sat down and done it, all for his third installment.) All that needs to be noted here is that I remember liking how Great Expectations played out more than I ultimately liked the movie as a whole, and that Y Tu Mamá También is one of my favourite movies of all time (and caused the future husband ranking of Gael García Bernal.)

Children Of Men is a truly different beast to También, however. It's almost post-apocalyptic, or, if you count the sudden infertility of all of the world's women as an apocalypse, which I guess it would be, though not in the traditional sense, it is probably the best post-apocalyptic film I've ever seen. It completely avoids the trappings of most films that would fit this ilk - that is, it looks like today. Only with a hell of a lot of despair.

Owen plays Theo Faron. Just a man. Working a job he hates in a world he hates, with only two people around him he doesn't hate: Jasper (Michael Caine) and his very ill wife. He was, however, married once to a woman named Julian (Moore), who is now a radical leader living as a refugee on the loose in Britain after the country closed its borders to all foreigners (she is American.) When Julian gets back in touch after twenty years, shortly after the death of the world's youngest person (who was eighteen at the time), Theo finds himself trying to deliver the young, miraculously pregnant Kee (Clare-Hope Ashitey) to a mysterious organisation called The Human Project - presumably these people want to work out why Kee is pregnant and how they can then cure the infertility problem.

It's a political allegory for a large part. It talks of the problems of closed borders in desperate times (really, what use does it have here?), of discrimination, of secrecy... of all of those things the world at large doesn't really like. Bombs go off in cafes in apparent terrorist attacks (but do we sympathise with them? I think we might...) much like today, and the film is not that far in the future - 18 years, if my memory serves me, as the youngest person alive, who as mentioned dies, was born in 2009, again memory permitting.

Something about those Mexican directors and the way they direct with handheld cameras - I don't think anyone can do it as well as they can. And Cuarón is one of the best. And then eliciting those performances. Owen is superbly gruff and hostile (and that's from a non-fan, remember), Moore is right on key with her matter-of-fact determination, Caine (someone else I'm not normally a huge fan of) plays the stoner geezer very well, while Ashitey puts in a star-making turn as the young woman on the run from any number of organisations. Support from such as my beloved Charlie Hunnam (looking virtually unrecognisable) and the fabulously unknown Jacek Koman (he's pretty well-known in Australia, but I don't imagine much outside of it) round it out. It's a truly terrific assemblage of quality actors putting in fantastic performances.

Lensing by the criminally underrated Emmanuel Lubezki (who has done, among others, The New World and Ali) is astonishing, creating an obvious UK and, particularly, London we all know and love, but one so hideously grimy and blighted by the effects of the tumultuous time these people are living in. In a just world his name would be as well known in living rooms as any of the best-known cinematographers out there. (I do know that the vast majority of people in this world would have no idea as to the name of a single cinematographer, but you get my point.)

Score is great. Design is Everything comes together. It's terrific. It's 5 stars again. Wow, doling my stars out like candy at the moment!

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