See Children of Men Before It's Too Late

I'm gonna rave about Children of Men again, so if you're tired of hearing about this devastating and powerful film, tune me out. Chances are you aren't tired, though -- chances are you haven't even had a chance to see the damn film yet, because Universal so badly botched its release.

How badly? Well, I saw the film again last night, with a friend who's as big a fan of Clive Owen, as big a fan of smart science fiction, as I am, and she was so excited that she told everyone in her office that she was finally going to see Children of Men. The responses of her officemates? Most of them hadn't even heard of the film! This is a major law firm in New York City ... in other words, a bunch of smart, connected people in the media capital of the world. If Universal had actively been trying to prevent potential moviegoers from discovering this brilliant movie, they couldn't have done a better job of keeping it secret. Oh, I was furious -- CoM has truly been criminally neglected by the very company that should have been championing it.

Which is an absolute pity. I was even more moved and more impressed by the film the second time around (and my friend loved it). There are layers of imagery and emotion working in tandem with one another that had registered only on a subconscious level with me the first time I saw it, but now I was more aware of how cleverly structured the film is, and how that structure works to create a dark and plausible near future. I appreciated far more than I already did Owen's subtle and compelling performance -- he's the kind of actor whose power often goes unrecognized, even among people who should know better (like some of my fellow film critics), because his work is never showy; his command of the screen comes in understated body language and the haunted shade in his eyes and in everything he does not do, as an actor. And the mastery of director Alfonso Cuaron and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki as they immerse us in this world becomes more apparent on multiple viewings, too. I'm starting to wonder whether the film shouldn't have been higher than No. 3 on my best-of list for 2006.

Children of Men will be out on DVD on March 27, but according to Box Office Mojo, the film is still on 155 screens this week. Catch it on the big screen if you can -- you'll thank me, I promise you.


MaryAnn Johanson

author of The Totally Geeky Guide to The Princess Bride

minder of