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"Children of Men," directed by Alfonso Cuarón and based on P.D. James' 1992 dystopian novel, is the bleakest movie I've ever wanted to see twice. Coming nearly 15 years after James' novel, it takes into account world events that she could never have dreamed of. Yet the picture doesn't so much build dread as smolder with it, as if we'd landed on a scorched, broken world still desperately trying to throw off some warmth.
And that right there is the Cuarón touch: The director of movies like "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" and "Y Tu Mamá También," pictures that radiate joy (even if, in places, they harbor their share of darkness), Cuarón at first seems like an odd choice to direct a pessimistic meditation on a world without children. But Cuarón is really the perfect choice: A filmmaker so responsive to joy and pleasure is our best guide to a world in which those essentials have gone missing. (If the picture had been made by, say, Lars von Trier, a filmmaker who fears for humankind but doesn't care much for people, a dystopia would just be business as usual.) "Children of Men" is a solemn, haunting picture, but it's also a thrilling one, partly because of the sheer bravado with which it's made. It left me feeling more fortified than drained. Cuarón, the most openhearted of directors, prefers to give rather than take away. — Stephanie Zacharek, Salon
Wed February 18, 2009, 7:00 & 9:15, Muenzinger Auditorium
UK, 2006, English, Color, 109 min, R, 35mm (1.85:1) • official site