Children of Men (2006) – Film Review

An intelligent, dark and grounded sci-fi film, with ‘Children of Men’ director Alfonso Cuaron (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Gravity, Roma) crafts a truly memorable experience. As the film’s fresh-take on the science fiction genre combines some great performances, alongside decent writing and some absolutely incredible cinematography by Emmanuel Lubezki, all alongside many scenes throughout the film being done completely within one single-take.

Plot Summary: In a world in which women have somehow become infertile, a former activist (Theo Faron) agrees to help transport a miraculously pregnant woman across a war-ridden country out to a sanctuary at sea in order to save the human race.

Based on the acclaimed novel: ‘The Children of Men’ by P. D. James, the film adaptation begins its narrative in a similar fashion to its source material, as the story kicks-off with a quick peek into the grim world of the film, as our protagonist ‘Theo’ makes his way into a small cafĂ© to grab a coffee. This soon leading onto a very shocking moment, which instantly establishes the tone of the film, and really helps give the audience a clear understanding of how these characters are coping with this reality. This soon leads onto the opening becoming very iconic in its own right (as well as my personal favourite scene of the film) and still feels very effective even today.

When it comes to the characters, all the performances throughout the film are pretty great, as every actor is really giving their all here regardless of the importance of their roles within the story. As Clive Owen, Clare-Hope Ashitey, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michael Caine are all terrific. Julianne Moore as ‘Julian’ in particular was a stand-out for me however, having some very memorable moments within only a short amount of screen-time. This is also one of the few films where I must really praise the extras, as many of the continuous takes are done using enormous amounts of extras, and from the foreground through to the background, there isn’t one out-of-place extra.

Every piece of the cinematography by Emmanuel Lubezki throughout the film is nothing short of phenomenal, using hand-held shots to the best of their advantage. Many scenes are filmed from the perspective of the characters, placing the audience in their own tense scenarios. The dark grey colour palette of the film also lends itself well to the war-ridden country setting, as every location always feels rustic, dirty and lived-in. The original score by John Tavener is also effective, despite being used very sparingly throughout the film to further add to the bleak atmosphere.

My only real criticisms with the film are related to the lack of character depth and the film’s overall pacing, as the pacing throughout the film is extremely slow, leading to many scenes feeling a little drawn-out at points. Despite this slow-pace sometimes adding to the building of tension, it feels mostly unnecessary for most of the film’s runtime. The lack of characterisation throughout the film is also a problem, as although a few characters do get some development, it’s usually few and far between, as I found myself finding more information about the characters online than within the film itself, luckily however, the decent writing does save this from being a huge issue.

To conclude, ‘Children of Men’ is an exceptional piece of the sci-fi genre. Coming-off as a very different approach than what you’d usually expect from a film such as this one, the film almost feels like more of an apocalyptic drama at points. But with a thought-provoking narrative, some amazing cinematography and a fantastic cast, ‘Children of Men’ truly is a very captivating (if not a very bleak) piece of entertainment, which never fails to impress me every-time I revisit it. Final Rating: 8/10.

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