Cuarón's Golden Child

Friday, December 29, 2006

"Children of Men" is the best movie of the year, and I'll stand on "Babel's" table at the Golden Globes in a pair of gift-bag Jimmy Choos and say that.

This audacious, sweeping, sobering and finally exhilarating film by Alfonso Cuarón ("Y Tu Mama Tambien") stars Clive Owen as a bureaucrat in 2027 London, the last outpost of the closest thing to civilization in a world gripped by pandemic infertility and a worldwide immigration crisis. When Owen's character, Theo, is pulled back into his activist past by his former lover, Julian (Julianne Moore), he embarks on an epic chase adventure in which the motivation is nothing less than the survival of the human race.

Adapting P.D. James's futuristic novel, Cuarón makes masterful use of cinematic grammar to create a story, a mood and an atmosphere that feels eerily contemporary. Recalling the most bravura moments of Orson Welles and Stanley Kubrick, Cuarón delivers two of the most breathtaking sequences in movies this year (pay close attention to the car scene with five passengers traveling from London to a country farm, as well as the chase through a refugee camp). With its bleak palette of British blues and grays, and its mournful conclusion, "Children of Men" can't be described as a feel-good movie, except to people who care deeply about the future of filmmaking. They'll walk out of the theater on air.

-- Ann Hornaday

Children of Men R, 106 minutes Contains strong violence, profanity, some drug use and brief nudity. At AMC Loews Georgetown.

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