"Shanti, Shanti, Shanti."
MovieRob wasn’t kidding when he wrote to me for this month’s Genre Grandeur ‘Latin Directed Movies’ chosen by Anna from Film Grimoire. It is an “interesting and difficult choice.” I knew straight off the bat that of all the films I’ve seen ‘Latin Directed Movies’ were certainly in the minority. It seems however that fate, once again for Rob’s Genre Grandeur, delivered me a perfect opportunity to blog about a subject I enjoy the most, this time dystopian futures.
Alfonso Cuaron’s gritty dystopia set in the year 2027 starts as it means to go on. Clive Owen plays former activist Theo Faron. After worming his way through a crowd of innocent bystanders oggling at the television in a small coffee shop, listening intently to the breaking news of Baby Diego’s death, Theo exits swiftly, cracks open his bottle of Bells for his morning fix. ~ BOOM! ~ Cuaron’s shock and awe direction grabs the viewer by the scruff of the neck and demands their undivided attention for the remaining 100 minutes of explosive dystopian social commentary.
In Cuaron’s unfathomable dystopia the world is united by the harrowing reality of universal infertility. In this crazed setting Theo dawdles along taking life’s last remaining privileges for granted, drinking, smoking, shutting out the impoverished chaos surrounding him. After his routinely visit to Jasper, where Michael Caine sports a humble supporting role, Theo is reminded that apathy in a world of chaos feeds the machine. In a world ruled by fear and insubordination there’s no shortage of candidates willing to join the totalitarian cause fuelled by anti-immigrant rhetoric, like one of Jasper’s disposable joints, replaced effortlessly by the Strawberry Cough waiting in the wings.
Upon returning to the concrete chaos Theo is bundled into the back of a van and driven to an unknown location for interrogation. Intimidated, scared, wary in approach it’s revealed his captors are led by his estranged wife Julian, played by Julianne Moore. Encouraged to join the Fishes cause, a militant group fighting for immigrant rights, Theo is enlisted to escort a young girl named Kee to the coast, the reason being is yet to be revealed to Theo, allowing cynicism and money to make his decisions for him. Travelling with Julian and Theo are Luke, Miriam and Kee. The lighthearted mood inside an atrocious car of the future is suddenly brought to a dramatic close when the group are ambushed by a crowd of marauding revolutionaries, resulting in a panicked escape.
Travelling to a safe house off the beaten path Kee calls for Theo’s presence, revealing the cause and purpose of their journey. Kee is the only pregnant woman on earth and Kee was instructed by Julian to trust Theo and Theo alone. After a dramatic escape from the farm Theo, Miriam and Kee set off for Jasper’s house to plan out their next move.
What follows is an intense ride that thrills at every turn all shot brilliantly to bring a dreary concrete plateau of helplessness to life. Emmanuel Lubezki, rising to international and commercial fame after his work on Gravity, also directed by Alfonso Cuaron, is at the helm of photography for Children of Men and was justly nominated for Best Achievement in Cinematography for Children of Men in 2007. Now firmly recognised as the Director of Photography to look up to having won the coveted title two years running for Gravity and Birdman, Children of Men benefits greatly from his vision and unique camera manipulation.
With a closing sequence to marvel at Children of Men warrants the Must-see status. In part because I am a lover of dystopian visions but also because this is such a well crafted piece of fiction, adapted from P. D. James’ ‘The Children of Men’, with excellent performances from Owen and Caine who really capture two sides of such a confined existence bound by an unshakable reality.
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