Friday, April 10, 2009

Friday's Featured Film 4/10/09

New movies are usually released to theaters every Friday, but who’s got 10 bucks these days to drop on a movie that may well be a load of crap? Given those odds, each Friday I offer an alternative on DVD that you can rent at your local video store (or in some cases, avoid at all costs). Some will be new releases, others you may have to hunt for, but all of them are available to light up your small screen should it be a lazy Friday night.

Children of Men

Science fiction is a genre of nearly limitless possibilities. When most people hear sci-fi, they immediately think of ray guns, aliens and spaceships. However, what truly defines science fiction is the way in which it uses technology - both real and imagined - to explore ideas. Children of Men, a dystopian drama set twenty years in the future, does exactly that, exploring the frailty of human civilization and goodness by examining a world that has lost hope in it's entirety.

The film takes place in 2027 in a world where no children have been born in 18 years. Due to the unexplained global infertility pandemic, the youngest human being alive is 18 and the human race faces the grim reality that this generation will be its last. Society crumbles. Governments collapse into anarchy and chaos. Britian responds by forming a police state, tightly controlling its citizens and brutally cracking down on immigrats fleeing their ravaged homelands for England's relative peace. Theo Faron (Clive Owen), a former activist who has long since given up hope, is approached by his ex-wife Julian (Julianne Moore), who continues on her activist work as the leader of the Fishes, a militant group fighting for equal rights for immigrants. She asks for his help in transporting Kee (Claire-Hope Ashley) an African refuge, to a port city where she can leave the country. Theo reluctantly agrees, and only later discovers what is truly at stake - Kee is pregnant, the last hope of humanity.

When the movie was released in 2006, I remember hearing a lot of buzz about its technical merit. The film received three Oscar nominations (cinematography, art direction, adapted screenplay) and I can more than see why. Emmanuel Lubezki's photography and Alfonzo Cuaron's directing combine to present an incredibly immersive world that feels all too real. Much of the impact of science fiction is determined by how deeply the audience buys the premise, and despite the incredible (and unexplained) plot device central to Children of Men, I almost instantly felt that it presented a world that could actually exist. Much has been made of several long single-shot sequences in the film, and they are indeed quite spectacular, and all the more impressive for the way that they naturally support the story rather than sticking out like an indulgent, showy stunt. The story explores a humanity devoid of hope, which is a humanity both broken and brutal. I have to imagine that this is what a world devoid of God's common grace would look like. Theo begins the movie in that boat, but over the course of the film we see his hope restored by Kee's child, which drives him to do incredible things. The messianic themes are unmistakable (the original novel was admittedly written as a Christian fable), and though the disturbing violence, harsh language, brief nudity, and bleak vision may not make the film palatable to some, the theme of redemption runs like an undercurrent through the whole thing. It's certainly worth your time. - ***1/2 (out of 4)

Children of Men is rated R for strong violence, language, some drug use and brief nudity.

1 comment:

Darius said...

I absolutely hated it :). I also read that it completely screwed up the original story from the book.