Children of Men (2006, Alfonso Cuarón)

First good Julianne Moore movie since 2002. Has it been that long?

Apolitical gov’t flunkie Clive Owen is recruited by ex-flame Moore to help her gang of revolutionaries deliver the only known pregnant woman to a secretive humanitarian scientist group in a devastated and infertile future. The government is against him after he’s targeted as a terrorist, the revolutionary group is against him thinking the woman is better used to serve their own cause, even the undercover prison guard acting as his inside man turns against him. Clive’s only true friend is his old pot-smoking pull-my-finger hippie friend Michael Caine with a post-gov’t-torture braindead wife living out in the country.

Chiwetel Ejiofor (Denzel’s partner in Inside Man) is the revolutionary leader after Julianne is killed, Claire-Hope Ashitey is Kee the pregnant woman, and actor/director Peter Mullan is Syd the prison guard.

The whole thing is extremely real. This future has so many intricate ties to our present, politically and socially, in little details scattered among the ruins. It’s all carefully drawn out to seem so real… then there’s the camerawork. Extremely long takes with an amazing amount of stuff going on during each one… stunts and effects and running steadicams, all shot by the guy who did The New World. As someone or other mentioned, the long shots help show you what’s at stake… no cuts to relieve the action, just follow Clive in his panic, showing us how much is at stake, how one slip will blow the whole game. So the movie sets up this real world, then plunks us in the middle of it.

And it’s grim, relentlessly hopelessly grim, dark and dreary, everyone against everyone else, no reason to keep living so they’re all out for their own self interest. It brings us down, down, down, leading up to this very hopeful Dead Man-reminiscent ending but with a great ray of hope, and since we’re so down, that ray of hope is brighter than I can remember seeing in any movie before. It’s Eternal Sunshine + Before Sunset caliber hope. The most positive and negative movie at once… completely thrilling and gorgeous and makes me cry just thinking about it. As someone else said, it’s scary how far ahead this film is over everything else I saw this year.

A couple of weeks later, I still can’t stop thinking about this one. Saw it again with Katy in the new year. It will probably end up as my favorite movie of 2007 as well as 2006.