sat 25/05/2019

Cannes 2019: The Dead Don't Die review - festival opens with rich zombie satire | reviews, news & interviews

Cannes 2019: The Dead Don't Die review - festival opens with rich zombie satire

Cannes 2019: The Dead Don't Die review - festival opens with rich zombie satire

Jim Jarmusch gathers an A-list cast for this undead romp

Bill Murray, Chloë Sevigny and Adam Driver star as small town cops

“The world is perfect. Appreciate the details” says a WU-PS driver played by RZA, in Jim Jarmusch’s gleefully meta zombie-comedy that has just opened the Cannes Film Festival. It’s good advice. Jarmusch’s latest work is a finely tuned, deadpan comedy that pulls no punches in sending up the clichés of the horror genre.

At the centre of the story are three bespectacled small-town cops, played by Bill Murray, Adam Driver and Chloë Sevigny. Their dull daily routine of managing minor local disputes is interrupted by news that the earth has shifted on its axis (due to polar fracking). A local wild man of the woods Hermit Bob (Tom Waits) notices that animals are fleeing to the woods and the sun doesn’t set at the right time. Worst of all, the dead are rising.Iggy Pop in The Dead Don't DieAs well as chowing down on the local residents, the dead are also drawn to what they used to do in life. Glazed-eyed teens wander the streets staring at their phones (one of the most on-the-nose gags), randomly a denim-clad Iggy Pop (pictured above) obsesses over coffee, while a local alcoholic (Carol Kane) finds she can only groan ‘chardonnay’ after her resurrection. The dead, it turns out, aren’t that different to the living - obsessing over the material and wantonly ignoring the real problems around them.

Fortunately, there’s a gaggle of locals with the necessarily skills to take down these unholy ghouls. Most striking of all is Zelda (Tilda Swinton), a Scottish samurai-sword-wielding undertaker with platinum blonde hair, who stalks the streets lopping of heads left, right and centre.

The bizarre plot is a richly crafted riff on numerous zombie flicks. Although it sounds like it has a lot in common with Shaun of the Dead, the comparison is only skin-deep. For fans there will great joy at Jarmusch peevishly poking fun at cliches, tired plot devices and the absurdity of the genre. There are meta call backs, jokes within jokes, satire about fake news, and an obsession with a Sturgill Simpson song from which the film takes its name.

There will be those who baulk at the strange, laconic sense of humour but, unlike Only Lovers Left Alive, the ennui has been dropped this time. It’s still as hipster as hell, but here Jarmusch’s audience is in on the joke, and it has a great punchline.

@JosephDAWalsh

Although it sounds like it has a lot in common with Shaun of the Dead, the comparison is only skin-deep

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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