Written by Alfonso Cuarón & Timothy J. Sexton
and David Arata and Mark Fergus
& Hawk Ostby
Directed by Alfonso Cuarón
Running Time: 1:49
for strong violence, language,
some drug use and brief nudity.
Children of Men was a tremendously directed film that unfortunately suffered from a slow moving story.
In the year 2027, the world has almost literally exploded. Countries are kicking out immigrants left and right and insurgents are killing random people just to make a point. And there's one more problem: women can no longer conceive and give birth. One morning the world's youngest person, at that point 18 years old, is killed and the world is in mourning. Theo is a regular guy in London having a regular life when he is suddenly kidnapped by his ex-wife and asked to help her with a mission. Her group has found a pregnant woman and they need Theo's help to get her to the coast where she can be helped. At first Theo refuses, but when he sees the woman and understands the magnitude of the situation, he leads her on a harrowing journey through hell to try and get her and her child to safety.
I guess my biggest problem with Children of Men was the story. It has a nice idea behind it, namely that women can't conceive any more and when they find one who can, what do you do with her? Use her as a national symbol for your fight against the government? Or safely tuck her away so the government can't get to her? But the way the story played out made the movie feel extremely long, and at times, boring. There were some great action pieces, with the story starting off with a bombing, but then there would be these long lulls where no one said or did anything worthwhile. I could never quite get into the story or the characters because I was never allowed too. Even the pregnant woman was kind of irritating, and it was her story that was supposed to be the most compelling. You'd think with five listed screenwriters, someone would have noticed that the movie moved along too slowly.
That being said, I thought the film was incredibly directed. I knew going in Alfonso Cuarón but it slipped my mind while watching and I almost leaned over to my friend to ask if this guy had directed anything before. It was only when the credits rolled that I went, oh yeah! Cuarón has an amazing eye and a tremendous ability to get performances out of his actors, no matter what the film. The visuals in the film were fantastic but what I enjoyed most about the film was the lack of editing.
I'd be willing to bet Children of Men had less edits than any other mainstream movie this year. There were sequences that would go on for minutes without cutting. The opening scene in the film was one long shot that concludes with a bomb going off. That technique allowed the audience to feel like they were in the middle of the film. But it was one extended sequence towards the end of the movie that really nailed the point. Theo is in what amounts to a prison camp and has been separated from the pregnant woman (who by now has given birth.) The prison camp has turned into a war zone and Theo has to run through the grounds and into a building to find the woman and her child. There are bombs going off, people being shot, buildings collapsing, missiles being shot and the entire sequence is one continuous take. It had to have lasted a good five minutes. At one point I did lean over to my friend and exclaim, you do realize this is one shot right? The amount of rehearsing it must have taken to get everything timed correctly just boggles the mind. This wasn't one of those movies where all people are doing is talking. There was a lot of stuff going on and in order for the shot to work, everything had to be timed perfectly. It was an amazing thing to witness. If only the story had been more engaging, this could have easily been a contended for movie of the year.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, I thought Children of Men was a good film but could have been better with a tighter story. It was however, one of the best directed films I've seen in years.
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