It is occasionally funny, but it grows weary—and possibly pointless—after a while.
Dir. Jim Jarmusch
2019 | USA | Comedy/Horror | 104 mins | 1.85:1 | English
M18 (passed clean) for zombie violence/gore, and for language
Cast: Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Tom Waits, Chloe Sevigny, Tilda Swinton, Danny Glover, Steve Buscemi
Plot: The peaceful town of Centerville finds itself battling a zombie horde as the dead start rising from their graves.
Awards: Nom. for Palme d’Or (Cannes)
Distributor: United International Pictures
Subject Matter: Moderate
Narrative Style: Straightforward
Pace: Slightly Slow
Audience Type: Slightly Mainstream
(Reviewed in theatres)
Make no mistake, The Dead Don’t Die is one of Jim Jarmusch’s weakest movies (quite a surprise that it was picked as Cannes’ opening film). When we think of cinema, we sometimes think of movies that were ahead of their time; unfortunately, we also have films like this one that are (way) behind.
Marketed as a zombie movie with the greatest cast ever (dis)assembled, which is not entirely untrue with such stars as Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Adam Driver being involved—and that’s just the tip of the iceberg, The Dead Don’t Die sadly doesn’t make use of each actor’s maximal potential; instead what we get are caricatures, some of which we have come to know as typecasting.
“This is definitely going to end badly.”
For instance, Swinton plays a strange sword-wielding, Buddha-worshipping Scottish lady of a funeral house. Driver does deadpan, quite well if I may add, but he is not fed with a consistent dose of great lines. Murray kinda plays himself, but he seems tired of himself. And perhaps that is the most apt descriptor of Jarmusch’s work—that the film is tired of itself.
It is a pity because the first half-hour or so of build-up is excellent as we get introduced to the range of characters and their quirks, with a looming zombie apocalyptic event that seems to have been caused by Man’s undutiful treatment of the planet (not that there’s anything to rejoice here for environmentalists). It is funny at first, but then grows weary—and possibly pointless—after a while.