Children of men is without a doubt the best movie I’ve seen in a while. It is also the most powerful. I’ve read comparisons to Come and see, which I haven’t seen yet, so I now have it in my Netflix queue. It may not be perfect, but I am not sure there are many examples of perfection anywhere and, really, I have nothing to criticize here. I waited for a while for this movie, since I saw the trailer for the first time and I must say it was a most worthwhile wait.
On the surface a science-fiction story about a near future where women cannot bear children and so humanity is slowly waiting to die out, Children of men is really about our very troubled present of intolerance, greed and war. I read an interview with director Alfonso Cuarón where they ask him why he didn’t explain in greater detail how the infertility came to be. It is not true, he says (I didn’t look for the exact quote, but this is its essence), so I didn’t care. That is not what I wanted the movie to be about. In another interview (and this quote I looked up), Cuarón says that “In the end, Children of men isn’t so much about humanity being destructive—its more about ideologies coming between people’s judgment and their actions.”
Cuarón, who also co-wrote the script, displays incredible technical expertise; there are several long and difficult scenes filmed in a single shot, there is also density of information, which is the best term I’ve come up with to describe what I see as scenes where different types of information are conveyed simultaneously by different means (newspaper clips, television images, people talking), a great alternative to the dreaded exposition. Another excellent example of density in this sense is found in the TV series Lost.
Children of men also looks beautiful, although perhaps this is a strange word to use in the context of the very ugly and mean future it describes. With great work by the main leads, a solid script and incredible cinematography, this is one of the most, if not the most, haunting and interesting films of 2006. (Though, of course, I imagine the much inferior Babel will fair better at the Oscars.)