Children of Men
directed by Alfonso Cuaron
(Universal, 2006)

Please note: Spoilers abound. Don't say you weren't warned.

How wildly divergent are the opinions about this movie. Amazing. This is a movie I've seen twice now and intend to see again. It bowled me over. One of the times I saw it was with my college-age daughter and she didn't care for it. The reasons she didn't like it are parallel to many negative comments I've read, to wit:

"Why is this happening to humans?"

There is no "why." It's simply a literary premise, perhaps based on mankind's ill treatment of the Earth. Note that it has not affected the animals.

"There's no closure at the end."

The curtain after the final scene shocked me a bit at first, too, but the more I thought about it, it was the perfect ending. The risks will not end. The idea of Kee and baby being hustled through the ship with a crowd of doting docs and nurses as the music rises and we see she has finally reached safety, a tear for Theo running down her cheek. How CORNBALL is that?????? Some people just hate ambiguity.

"It's not like the novel."

Fair enough. I have not read the novel, but from what I understand it veers sharply from the book. Stephen King once said he's never upset when movies of his books go off in another direction. He considers the movies separate entities. It's not like the movies replace the books.

"Were the Fishes supposed to be good or bad?"

Neither. Probably started out good, but the decision to off Julian and keep Kee and use her for political leverage in England turned them bad.

Despite the sci-fi trappings, this movie is really about a wrecked loser being handed a mission and getting a chance for redemption. But he's not Bruce Willis. He never picks up a gun. He's wearing flip flops. He picks a car that doesn't start. He never cracks wise. He wears a shabby raincoat throughout the movie. He's terrified and confused. His main good point, and what keeps pulling his chestnuts out of the fire, is that he's trustworthy.

And to conclude, my friends, the awesome unbroken shot during the ambush in the woods, shot entirely from the inside of the car, is worth the price of mission alone. Check the extras in the DVD to see how they did it.

review by
Dave Sturm

19 September 2009

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