What a movie to completely miss for almost a decade! If The City of Lost Children is akin to a Terry Gilliam film after ingesting high quantities of liquid LSD, then this is the opposite. A subdued, sci-fi/dystopian/thriller effort, British accents everywhere – I couldn’t help but be reminded of Gilliams ‘trilogy’. But here the British, Monty Python-like humour is absent, and the humour that is present is of a much darker nature. In fact this is a dark film, period, with humanity collapsing into itself as all females have been rendered infertile and anarchy threatens to sweep the world into utter chaos.
As we follow Theo’s (Clive Owen) journey through this broken world, the film cleverly puts atrocious events in the background; for example upon arrival at a refugee camp, the camera remains in the bus Theo is in, his face in picture as we witness the reality of the world he is living in from inside the bus, through the windows. It creates a strange sense of disconnection and is captured very well. This technique is reversed for the tension-filled final act, as that sense of disconnection is obliterated while we witness brutal firefights that Theo finds himself in the middle of. This final act really brings the film home with a strong finish, with fire-fights aplenty, maintaining and adding to the momentum already created by the film’s opening act.
They don’t make movies like this anymore; this is definitely a unique dystopian flick.
Heh, ‘unique’ and ‘dystopian’ in the same sentence. It almost seems like an oxymoron these days. Does such a thing exist in this modern cinematic world? With constant Youth novel adaptations, it is hard to find a good dystopia movie these days. The Hunger Games doesn’t interest me, though I do respect it, but god-awful movies like Divergent and decidedly average movies such as The Giver make it very hard to find a decent movie of this genre that isn’t aimed at ‘young adults’. If only they still made films like this one.
Which brings me to the director of this movie. It boggles my mind thinking how good this movie is compared to his recent ‘effort’ Gravity. Here, the script, the narrative, the acting – it is all right on the money, and anything shot by cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki is sure to look special. Gravity on the other hand is filled with a horrid script (highlights include “ugh, i HATE space”, Sandra Bullock at her finest) and empty characters (Clooney doesn’t look like he is trying, while Bullock manages to become one of the most boring and shallow on-screen characters I have ever seen). And of course you have the nice, Hollywood happy ending to wrap it all up. Lubezki’s innovative cinematography is apparent but is overwhelmed by the bucketloads of CGI.
Watching Children of Men and comparing it to Gravity really illustrates how mainstream film has gone downhill in the 21st century. It is refreshing to watch a gripping thriller that isn’t drenched in computer code and has a narrative that has obviously had hard work put into it.
Okay, enough bitching about Gravity….
The best element of Children of Men for me was the realism. It seems like a future-based, dystopia-infuenced movie at first, and while this is the case to a certain extent, what cannot be denied is the realistic portrayal of a world not too dissimilar from our own; the hatred towards refugees and immigrants being one of many disturbing parts of this flick. Further disturbing is that this ten-year-old film is still just as relevant today as it was when it was released, if not more so, and many events in the film made me think about what society today is turning into today, and what our future could possibly hold. Even in Australia, where we are pretty chilled for the most part, immigration is a hot topic that almost never ceases to get folk all excited and/or angry. One feels as if this is a movie that will stand the test of time. It also manages to avoid the washed out look that many films of the 90’s had, though I’ll be honest, this never bothered me as I love the 90’s.
And what ever happened to Clive Owen? He popped up in Sin City and I haven’t seen him since. Perhaps this is just another example of my sporadic (at best) exposure to pop culture and the guy is making fantastic movies left and right. If this is the case though, I sure as hell haven’t seen any of them. However in this movie he is great, I had only ever seen him in Sin City previously; I had no idea he was English! The best performance by far though is by Michael Cain, a long-haired hippy of sorts who is extremely fond and proud of the marijuana he grows. His character provides most of the comic relief amongst the depressing world that humanity now occupies.
This flick has it all. I’m glad I chose this title for one of my Blindspot picks as it is the perfect blend of genres for me: a dystopian world with psychological thriller elements running through its bloodstream. At the heart of all the chaos though is a rather touching story about trying to preserve the first baby born on Earth in an unspecified amount of years, which is where the film focuses for the second two acts. This touching story, juxtaposed against the carnage and anarchy taking place in the background, is what helped this film really connect with me. Rather than creating a depressing world filled with depressing characters, here we have a movie that has a depressing, ruined remnant of humanity, but features a cast of characters who are all filled with hope. They live under constant threat yet hope always remains. Despite setbacks they encounter, the chance of a newborn baby in this world is too precious to lose hope.
I’ll say it again: I really wish they made more movies like this.
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