Children of men at 15: Alfonso Cuaron’s still surprisingly brilliant masterpiece

REVIEW: Alfonso Cuaron makes ambitious films.

Of his late international breakthrough Y tu mamá también – to the frenzied choreographies of Gravity and the laceration RomeCuaron never repeated himself, settled on a style, or did anything that seemed safe or predictable.

Even that of Cuaron Harry Potter Payment, The Prisoner of Azkabanis a blast of freewheeling storytelling and wildly kinetic cinematography that sets the bar high for the rest of the series.

But in 2006 Cuaron starred in a film that was one of the best of the decade – and one that has aged over the past 15 years as a classic in the making.

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children of men is a free adaptation of a novel by PD James. Cuaron made drastic changes to the story, but James was still happy with the finished film.

The film is set in the year 2027. Infertility, political instability and revolution have caused global economies to crumble and the UK is one of very few functioning nations. Immigration is effectively illegal, and the police are relentless in rounding up and deporting all “refugees”.

Children of Men is full of movement and as exciting as the war movie it sounds like.  But it's also a film that revels in character, plausibility, and clever world-building.  There's heart-pounding action, but also allegory, ideas and debate.

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Children of Men is full of movement and as exciting as the war movie it sounds like. But it’s also a film that revels in character, plausibility, and clever world-building. There’s heart-pounding action, but also allegory, ideas and debate.

In this eerily believable near future, Theo is a run-down, depressed civil servant. Reality crashes into Theo’s life in the form of Julian, his ex-wife and the mother of their child, who is now the leader of a revolutionary pro-refugee militia.

There have been no human pregnancies on Earth for 18 years. But Julian has amazing news – and Theo is about to become part of a rebellion.

Cuaron takes this dense matter and shapes an exceptional film. children of men is full of movement and as thrilling as the near war movie it sounds like. But it’s also a film that revels in character, plausibility, and clever world-building. There’s heart-pounding action, but also allegory, ideas and debate.

Clive Owen plays Children of Men's Theo.

provided

Clive Owen plays Children of Men’s Theo.

Clive Owen and Julianne Moore are perfect as Theo and Julian, with Owen putting in the best performance of his career. And Michael Caine almost steals the movie with a brilliantly funny and poignant cameo as the aging pot dealer who helps Theo. Caine based his performance on his friendship with John Lennon.

children of men is a surprisingly good and perhaps timeless film.

After years of being difficult to find online, it is now available for rental on AroVision, YouTube, Google Play and iTunes. But if you can find it on DVD or Blu-Ray, you’ll be rewarded with hours of extra material, movie making-ofs, and supporting documentaries.

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