Children of Men felt real. The entire mise-en-scene made it feel like I was constantly present in the action. However, I felt as though its powerful story was lost in the realism.
The mise-en-scene in this film made it feel incredibly realistic. The movement of the camera, which was hand held and constantly moving around the world away from the main character, made the camera feel like my own set of eyes. It didn’t look like I was watching a movie, it looked like I was there, standing in the middle of the action. The very long takes with few cuts also increased this effect because in real life there are no cuts. Furthermore, the lighting also helped as it did not appear staged; it looked as if the filmmakers walked out into the set and used preexisting light sources. Finally, the sounds of the movie further impacted its realism as they were mostly ambient instead of pieces of a score.
The problem with this realism was that it felt too real. It felt like I was included in the film instead of invested in it. I was one of the characters, instead of watching them. I had been thrust in with a group of strangers who were trying to survive. There was no time for stopping and thinking about or appreciating the film; I had to keep moving. The pacing of the film and the soundtrack impacted this feeling the most. The pace never really changed. I expected the film to slow for a heavily emotional scene or build toward a final climax, but it never really did. Instead, it simply continued from scene to scene, thrusting the characters into new situations. Furthermore, the film lacked a powerful soundtrack for most of the film. Even worse, when music appeared, I felt as though the music missed the mark. It was placed either too early or too late, missing the scene’s crucial moments. There were extremely powerful scenes in this film. But, without a change in pacing or powerful music to alert me to their presence, these scenes felt exactly the same as the previous ones; I did not know to stop and pay attention.
Was the film too real? Did it get lost in its focus to be incredibly realistic when it should have put more focus on building its incredibly powerful story?