Films of the decade: "Children of Men"

With this gorgeous, riveting apocalyptic thriller, Alfonso Cuar

By Sebastian Gutierrez

Published December 17, 2009 3:02PM (EST)

A still from "Children of Men"
A still from "Children of Men"

"Children of Men" completed Alfonso Cuarón's remarkable trifecta of reminding Hollywood why he's so relevant. By going back to his roots with "Y Tu Mamá También," he was surprisingly handed the keys to the kingdom to take over the Harry Potter franchise. That he made the most inventive movie in the series and pointed the way forward using the same elements Chris Columbus had been working with is nothing short of remarkable. Cuarón went from tiny-budget road movie to the glossiest Hollywood production without breaking a sweat. For his next trick, ostensibly given all the freedom he was going to get for a while, he chose to tackle this tricky futuristic novel and came up with not just the most convincing version of the future we've seen in a while but a ridiculously taut, human thriller that deals with issues like immigration in the clearest, most effective manner.

The performances across the board are sensational, with Clive Owen as a former activist now working as a paper pusher being given the chance to literally save mankind in a way that would make Graham Greene proud. Julianne Moore and Michael Caine are pitch-perfect and Claire-Hope Ashitey is heartbreaking as the one potential key to the world's infertility crisis.

So much has been said about the ridiculous magic conjured by Emmanuel Lubezki photographing this movie -- and frankly, all praise is faint here -- not just for the bravura set pieces (the Julianne Moore shooting inside the car, the 15-minute war-zone climax), but also for how creatively it frames the world of 2027 in a convincing mix of banners, buses and landmarks (none more fun and oddly poignant than the Pink Floyd pig).

I love this movie for its ideas, for its look, for the fact that it is deeply emotional without being sentimental and for its great sense of music (none more than the kick-ass Jarvis Cocker end-credits finale, "Cunts Are Still Ruling the World"). Hats off, Mr. Cuarón.

Film Salon has invited a group of special guests to write about their favorite film(s) of the 2000s. To read the entire series, go here. 

Sebastian Gutierrez

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