Children of Men review by Adrijan Arsovski - Cinema Paradiso
Alfonso Cuaron is, undoubtedly, a director with a special touch. His movies have that distinctive note that you can immediately recognize and loudly exclaim his involvement in the work, regardless if the work itself allows such praise or hides it. Children of Men does not hide anything; in fact, this film puts, inarguably, one of the greatest working directors of the 21st century in full display, including all his camera angles, choice of a cinematographer (the equally great Emmanuel Lubezki who later went on to work on ‘The Revenant’), and the infamous long takes which are pieces of art in and of themselves – like short stories waiting to become parts of a whole.
The film follows Theo (in Clive Owen’s best role till date, on par or better with Croupier), as he tries to make sense of the word around him which has undoubtedly gone to shite. In this truly post-apocalyptic world, females have somehow become infertile, and thus the sole survival of the human race has been put at stake. Meanwhile, only Britain had remained the only “viable” state, using an authoritarian rule and going back to politics such as deporting illegal immigrants, introducing constant curfews, and waging a physical and war of propaganda with its citizens. In this very likely scenario, Britain, in the word of the film, “soldiers on”.
It would be rather unfair to give a criticism of this film in 500 words or less, because that would mean to undermine (and overlook) several aspects of the film without even having the guts to talk about current political affairs. And that would be equal parts dishonest, as well as heavily unprofessional. But I digress.
Okay, now let’s talk about the technicalities that make Children of Men such a great film. First on the list: the cinematography, which is breathtakingly eerie, beautiful, and the best in the world credit to Emmanuel Lubezki.
Next on the list: the long takes. There are several in the film, of which the most prominent two + a half are as follows: Car One, Car Two, and Battle One. Car One is the scene where Theo (and group) try to escape the clutches of the resistance (or what’s its name) while going downhill. The most intense long-take scene in the whole history of cinema. Car Two (by reverse chronological order) is the scene where a certain character dies; this scene lasts about eight minutes and director Cuaron admits that he cheated a little whilst putting it together. Nonetheless, this scene is the most thrilling long-take in the history of cinema.
Finally, let’s talk about Battle One. This take of a scene happens in the third and final act of the film, where the stakes are as high as it can get. The final confrontation between the dissidents and the state of Britain happens around Theo, while he struggles to escape with a valuable payload in his hand. Will Theo succeed? Who will prevail, the dissidents, or the oppressive, authoritative state of Britain?
That remains on you, the viewer, to find out.