Children of Men - 28th May 2011

What does this film teach us?
Primarily that people have really really short term memories!

For a film this good to seemingly have been all but forgotten under the vast bottom cough smelling swamp that is modern "churn 'em up and vomit them out" movie making seems to be a bit of an unforgivable crime.

Clive Owen, in the middle of, what I like to call, his grubby trench coat period, stars in what is clearly his best film to date and launched him, to some extent, internationally as the most unlikely of British action heroes, till Liam Neeson took that title later with Taken.

If you don't know the story it is set in the not-too-distant dystopian future where Women are infertile and have been for 18 years, the rest of the world has crumbled and only Britain, just about, survives, although it's a pretty grim fucking place to be.  Clive Owen is the sad-sack office employee who doesn't much care for the life he's leading, except for the occasional breaks in the countryside he takes, visiting his older pot-head, liberal friend played by Michael Caine. Then a blast from the past crops up in the form of Julianne Moore's underground revolutionary and he gets embroiled in an adventure where the whole future of human existence ends up resting in his hands.

The futuristic setting is rendered completely realistically with a stunningly grey and mundane colour palette. Utilising long and seemingly uninterrupted steady cam shots the drama, violence, action and stunning yet grimy visuals are balletic and beautiful and you just completely accept everything you're seeing like it's newsreel from the future.
I can only imagine the choreography or the effects work that went into achieving this result but I suspect it's probably a bit of both. You won't fully appreciate this till about the third time of watching it because the film, the plot, the characters, the acting, the style, the camerawork, everything is just so absorbing, interesting, intricate and exciting that you are picked up and swept along by the whole thing that you barely have time to take a breath and look around at what the editor or director is doing.

It is both a very modern way to approach film making but also seems to have an affinity with the British and European films of the past especially. In the sense that it is a fairly complex, intelligent thriller with realistic violence but a nice air of down to earth irony, spirit and even that very British trait of nonchalance. It also has touches of Terry Gilliam's work, it's like the set designer from Twelve Monkeys and the set designer of Brazil had a cinematic love child.

Now just in case you thought this was all style over substance, because I was banging on about the look of the piece, then don't fear this has all the weighty plot and the first class acting one could require from a film, all tinged with a very dark sense of humour. As it's never explained why the human race went infertile, the film is not really a specific allegory on any one thing and neither is it a cautionary tale, in that way it is sort of pure science fiction as you can read into it anything you want. Basically though, human beings are wasteful, aggressive, bureaucratic bastards and take themselves all way too seriously.

The cast are all brilliant but I am surprised Owen hasn't received some sort of Oscar for mumbling as he has, possibly, one of the most downtrodden and sometimes droney voices ever committed to celluloid but this does mean when he has moments of happiness or moments of emotion and his face and voice come alive, it's all the more powerful.

If you haven't seen it then please rush out, get hold of it and watch it now. Films like this that have a bit of everything in them and actually succeed are a rare breed and when they emerge, seemingly like a fluke, from some, actually talented, little corner of the universe we should make sure they are never forgotten and attain the classic status they so richly deserve.

10 out of 10 puffs of Strawberry Cough
Points from The Wife - 8 out of 10


Jean Claude Van Damme in DERAILED - 28th May 2011

Bridesmaids - 19th May 2011