Actually this is a movie pick – it is currently on a loop on cable television. But I recommend a DVD purchase for posterity.
Admittedly the movie that I was anticipating view when I saw it in January is not the film I experience after I left the theater nearly two hours later.
Initially I sat there flummoxed at all the images was flashing across the screen. Literally there is a lot to take in … your visuals are assailed (and assaulted) from the very beginning.
At the conclusion of my first viewing, I was aware that I had not seen a bad film but had been witness to something different than I had experienced in quite some time. It was only after my recent second viewing that I felt comfortable giving my opinion and (a minimal degree of) insight into what my cinematic experience was.
Visually it is a remarkable film – a certain credit to the fine cinematography (thank goodness Mr. Emmanuel Lubezki received an Oscar nomination for his efforts).
Also great credit goes to the director, Alfonso Cuaron, who has helmed pictures such as Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (my personal favorite book AND film of the series) and Y Tu Mama Tambien, a film that I must admittedly go back and re-watch because frankly, I was left scratching my head on that one too.
I will spare everyone the literary background and source material for the film – since I have not read the P.D. James source material of the same name, but the basic premise is that we are in a world (London in particular) in the very near (and way too familiar) future. The world is in shambles – chaos is the order of the day and only Britain soldiers on. As an additional layer to the film you have the matter of the world’s population no longer able to reproduce, thus ensuring the future of mankind. The reason why we never get an explanation for, but that doesn’t matter. It is only important because it drives the plot forward of what is an Odyssey-story at which the end game is the possible redemption of mankind. Here I choose my words carefully because “redemption” and words of heavily spiritual/religious implication runs consistent with yet another theme of the film (faith/chance). The religious allusions are hitting you from every angle which is why you may suffer from sensory overload in many parts of the film.
The acting by all principle and supporting actors was superb. Of particular note is the bombastic and yet still restrained tone of Michael Caine’s performance as the aged hippie/hermit who still seems to find hope in the human condition. Also of note:
- Clive Owen (one of my favorite actors) did not fail in his portrayal of the reluctant and ultimately resigned protagonist.
- Chiwetel Ejiofor continues to leave me in awe as to his dynamic range and to surprise me and the audience.
- The young woman who is at the center of the plot’s action, Claire-Hope Ashitey (as Kee), is amazing in only her second film role. Her first film, Shooting Dogs (UK)/Beyond the Gates (USA), was another great performance. I will review that one at a later time.
And a repeat viewing – while the action goes by faster – it still engaging and compelling during the scenes of high tension and “chase” I still felt my heart racing.
During this second go around I watched it with my brother – who like many people – did not like the ambiguity of the ending. I beg to differ – that is the intent of the film. The future is up to all of us to decide.
Do not take my word for it; for an in-depth and very well articulated insight into this film, pick up a copy of the January/February 2007 edition of Film Comment magazine (http://www.filmlinc.com/fcm/fcm.htm). Back issues are available for purchase.