Children of Men drops you smack dab in the middle of an apocalypse. You’d better be ready.
Alfonso Cuarón isn’t interested in explaining everything to the audience. He wants us to struggle to get our bearings. The work of understanding is what makes art an experience rather than just an assault or a “message.”
Here he is talking about his aversion to using cinema as mere narrative.
“What I hate is when cinema is hostage of narrative,” he told me. “Then I say, ‘Come on — don’t be lazy, read a book.’ If you want to see performances, go to the theater; it’s fantastic. It’s an actor’s medium there and a dramatic medium — at least conventional theater. But come on, leave cinema alone! Let cinema breathe, in which narrative is an element of the cinematic experience, but it’s [just] an element, as acting is an element, cinematography is an element. Music and decors, those are elements. But right now? Cinema becomes just about seeing illustrated stories as opposed to engaging audiences in an experience in which you don’t explain much.”