With your overflowing belly still digesting holiday yum-yums, your credit card still bruised and sore from its seasonal pounding and just before you bury your self-improvement lies in a boozy New Year’s resolution, let this writer sneak one final cinematic gift into your now achingly empty stocking: skip the seasonal trappings of lavish yet stale, redundant Oscar-baiting musicals, free yourself from laborious, re-heated boxing sequels and other “inspirational” sports ephemera, destroy any and all loud 3-D animated 90-minute money-suckling kid-opiates and lap-up the intense cinematic thrill-ride that is Alfonso Cuaron’s CHILDREN OF MEN.
Enjoy the film because of its timely ethos. Set in 2027 Britain, the epicenter of a ravaged and diseased world where women have been infertile for twenty years. Is this due to an epic moral fall-out? Possibly; though the film subtly hints at a lack of social responsibility within the general populace more being a cause. Britain has become the world’s focus because many developed nations and cities have already fallen; thus treating other country’s refugees with a xenophobic blood-lust akin to Germany’s during World War II. Delving out this justice by fire is a pseudo-“Homeland Security” department run amok; debilitating personal freedom for security and thereby creating an totalitarian state.
Enjoy the film for its boozing, reluctant anti-hero, Theodore Faron (Clive Owen). In the tradition of the hard-boiled detectives of classic ‘40s-50s film-noir traced through BLADE RUNNER’s Rick Deckard and TOTAL RECALL’s Douglas Quaid, Faron trusts nobody but himself in his task of providing safe flight for the world’s only bona-fide pregnant women, Kee (Claire-Hope Ashitey); not the government, the underground rebels meant to “protect” them, nor any potential commoditizing poacher. Owen handles the role with a skillful level of cool, confidence and unpretentiousness that makes good on the promise of the same traits displayed in his earlier roles, notably in CROUPIER.
Enjoy the film for its wicked and unpredictable little sense of humor, off-setting it’s often heart-pounding pace; thus gently and enjoyably toying with its audience. Laugh along with Michael Caine’s Jasper Palmer, a dog-eared new-age hippie-guru and protector. Chuckle (internally) at the sight of Julianne Moore’s face next to “World’s Most Wanted Terrorist” on a breaking-news placard. The benefit of such deft touch is the sheer force of the tragic moments that often appear in their more humorous brethren’s wake. These are the meat of the film and are as pulsating, piercing and powerful as a war documentary or embedded newscast. Stylistically, they are treated as much, with handheld cameras and without any edits; therefore never allowing you a break to catch your breath. This strength can also be a tiny hindrance; sometimes certain moments are better left to the individual evil devices of one’s own imagination than displayed.
Be the first on your block to enjoy this film and spread the gospel if you are like-minded. Due to its odd release date (considering its more seasonally traditional competition), its seeming lack of a major marketing push and likely resulting lackluster box office performance, CHILDREN OF MEN may go quickly; banished to “cult” status and left gain to gain likely behind-closed-doors popularity in succeeding years away from the big-screen medium it deserves to be seen on now.
**** out of *****