With The dead do not die auteur Director Jim Jarmusch uniquely shapes this horror genre. As might have been expected, Jarmusch's vision is more ironic than that of a typical zombie and a little less dreadful – even if the dead mentioned above are eating away at the entrails of their victims. It's not a perfect movie, but Tilda Swinton wields a katana with deadly accuracy against the undead. What is not to love?
(Some spoilers below.)
Zombies seem to be a strange subject choice for this longtime favorite at the Cannes Film Festival. Jarmusch's career began in 1984 with his first major film, Stranger Than Paradise . This year, the film won the Caméra D & # 39; Or in Cannes and established the director as an emerging creative force in the art-house cinema.
Films such as  Dead Man Mystery Train, Down by Law, Night on Earth and Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai consolidated his Auteur status continue. In 2005, Jarmusch won the Cannes Grand Prix for Broken Flowers in which Bill Murray appeared as a middle-aged man in search of the son's mother, whom he had never met. And Jarmusch is no stranger to unusual approaches to traditional horror stories, as evidenced by his 2013 cryptovampire love story. Only Lovers Left Alive
The trailer fell in April, raising hopes that the genre could be tailored to Jarmusch's idiosyncratic style and his extremely dry wit – especially given the rise of comic horror with zombies in the last 15 years, beginning with the year 2004 Shaun of the Dead . The director's vision goes back to classic George Romero zombies (Romero originally called them "ghouls"): they are slow, shuffling, barely-sentient beings who do not particularly discriminate in their diets as they eat part of the zombies of human bodies not just the brain. And they can easily be disappointed by the destruction of the head – at least until their numbers are so large that they simply overpower everyone in their own way.
The people in this case are the inhabitants of a small rural town called Centerville. You notice some strange phenomena, possibly due to fracking on the polar ice caps that push the earth off its axis. Somehow (Jarmusch wisely does not bother to find a better explanation) this serves to revive the dead, with predictable terrible consequences for the people of Centerville. It's up to Chief Cliff Robertson (Bill Murray) and Officer Ronald "Ronnie" Peterson (Adam Driver) to protect the city from the growing zombie horde – a task she does not prepare despite Ronnie's practical knowledge of zombie lore are. 19659009] Centerville looks like such a pleasant city.
Among the all-star cast members, many of whom, like Murray, have worked with Jarmusch on previous projects, include Chloë Sevigny as Officer Minerva "Mindy" Morrison. Steve Buscemi as Farmer Miller, wearing a Make America White Again hat; Tom Waits as Hermit Bob, who serves as the film's social conscience; and Danny Glover and Caleb Landry Jones as Hank Thompson and Bobby Wiggins, each with a hardware store and a gas station / grocery store.
Tilda Swinton shines especially as Scottish morgue attendant Zelda Winston, who is not so good at make-up; Their bodies look like runaways from a music video from the Culture Club of the 1980s. But she has a passion for Japanese swordplay – "I'm pretty sure I can defend myself against the undead" – and a secret that she has carefully hidden from the city.
Rosie Perez joins them, Selena Gomez, Sara Driver and RZA in supporting roles. Hardcore Jarmusch fans will appreciate the performance of Eszter Balint as an unhappy diner waitress. The Hungarian-born Balint starred in Stranger Than Paradise as Eva (after the classic motto: "It's Screamin 'Jay Hawkins, and he's a wild man, so crazy!"). Iggy Pop and Carol Kane make cameos as zombies looking for coffee and a glass of chardonnay with a side of delicious entrails. These zombies are not obsessed with having brains or eating humans – though they certainly eat humans – but from the things they were most interested in in life. The undead wander the city, complaining about "sweets" or trying to play tennis or football. Some walk around with smartphones and complain about "Wi-Fi" and "Bluetooth". My personal favorite was a young zombie woman moaning in a model pose and complaining about "fashion".
All performances are terrific; one would expect no less from this talented occupation. Jarmusch pays homage to the most famous zombie tropics and there are some really funny and really awful moments. Whether you like The Dead Don & # 39; t at the end of the day may depend on how you feel about Jarmusch's classic, dead, meandering narrative style. Either it works for you or not in this context. It worked mainly with me.
Whether you like the movie or not depends on how you feel about Jarmusch's dead, meandering narrative style.
If I have a critique, it's this The Dead is sometimes a bit too smart for itself. Jarmusch does not quite break the fourth wall, but Driver and Murray occasionally break the character to openly realize that they are in a movie. For example, the country singer / songwriter plays Sturgill Simpson's song "The Dead Don & # 39; t Die" in the opening credits and reappears on the radio when we meet Cliff and Ronnie for the first time. Cliff believes he is experiencing déjà vu but Ronnie declares it is just the theme song of the film. (You'll hear it all the way, and Sturgill makes a brief appearance as a zombie obsessed with an old guitar.) Towards the end of the movie, the driver aborts the character again to admit that he's been reading the entire script. Murray notes that he only received his own scenes. Neither was prepared for the supposedly unwritten revelation of Zelda Winston's secret.
These brief pauses could annoy Jarmusch's Auteur and shrugged, but his ill-considered morale in the end does not dismiss it easily. He unambiguously imagines zombies as a metaphor for crass, rampant materialism. That's why his zombies track down the material objects they treasure the most in life, rather than just eating starved meat. (They usually attack when a living human attracts their attention.) If Jarmusch had stopped that, the movie would have been alright. But in the last few moments, he has to bring the point home by making Hermit Bob his moral mouthpiece and offering a raspy insight into the tragedy of our soulless, insatiable hunger for all that stuff, at the expense of what's really important (what one assumes). Jarmusch weakens the effect of his own message by making it so clear.
Ronnie repeatedly tells us from the beginning: "That will not turn out well." It is certainly a painful end for an alleged zombie comedy. But Jarmusch's decision to go dark at the end eventually works. Shaun the Dead The creator Simon Pegg has called zombies "the most potent metaphorical monsters" as they depict the slow, steady approach of death: "weak, clumsy, often absurd, the zombie approaches inexorably, relentlessly , unsolvable. "Jarmusch seems to share this sensitivity. And the lyrics of the title song reinforce this and remind the viewer, " After Life Is Over / Life After Death Continues ." We still long for our coffee and chardonnay.