After the vampires of Only Lovers Left Alive, Jim Jarmusch takes on the zombies in The Dead Don’t Die. The ecological fable relies on humor to get its message across and promises to deconstruct the genre. The American director calls on his band, to make us live the last hours of humanity.
“In this peaceful town, in its quiet streets, something terrifying is happening…” The dead do not die and the small town of Centerville finds itself confronted with a horde of zombies obsessed with Wifi and Chardonnay. The film, which opened the Cannes film festival, has everything on paper to become a staple of zombie comedy, in the tradition of Shaun of The Dead and Welcome to Zombieland. But now, Jarmusch does not take himself seriously and deconstructs the patterns to offer a dark and funny film. Far from being the most memorable of his filmography, he offers entertainment on the border between the turnip and the genius.
A deadly cast
Adam Driver is not his turn to test with the director and perfectly embodies this deputy sheriff, impassive in the face of the zombies that threaten his city. “It’s going to end badly” you are warned. The actor, also known to the general public for his role in Star Wars, shares the poster with Chloë Sevigny, who plays a frightened policewoman and Tilda Swinton, hilarious as an embalmer. The names of Danny Glover, Steve Buscemi, RZA, Carol Kane and Selena Gomez are added to the already prestigious cast.
Die of laughter
It’s the same song… Rehearsal comedy, meta references, Jim Jarmusch knows his score and relies on the absurd to make us smile. From Adam Driver’s Star Wars keychain to Psychosis’s Bates Motel, the director appeals to our pop culture. Like the wave of zombies that descends on the protagonists, Jarmusch floods us with musical and cinematographic references. The music-loving filmmaker returns to his first love, and calls on Iggy Pop to play a caffeine-addicted ghoul. If the viewer is not hilarious in front of this comedy, The Dead Don’t Die has the merit of taking the opposite view from other comedies of the genre and making us smile with its lunar dialogues. Bill Murray perfectly embodies this stereotype of the sheriff overwhelmed by events and when he launches”It is perhaps the worst thing I have ever seen”, we no longer doubt the real ambition of the film: not to take anything seriously.
Tribute to films of the genre
Jarmusch deconstructs the patterns and makes his film a tribute to zombie films. Built like a sketch film, The Dead Don’t Die is constantly inspired by the classics of the genre, like The Night of The Living Dead . From the Pontiac featured in the 1968 film to the famous “Kill the Head”, Jarmusch does not hide his inspirations and pays tribute to the precursor George A.Romero. The director, from the first scenes, breaks the fourth wall and leads us to reflect on the construction of his work, close to the pastiche. From the American Diner, to the center for juvenile delinquents, he meticulously chooses these places of action and paints a picture of a zombie fable, as we like them …
An ecological and political tale
Unlike his associates, the director chooses an ecological disaster to explain the return to life of the stiffs of Centerville. By using all the resources of the planet, humans have caused the disruption of the Earth’s axis of rotation and the consequences will be disastrous. Subtle or not, Jarmusch uses zombies to talk about his country. The aptly named Centerville, portrays a pro-Trump, climate skeptic and disillusioned America. From the “Make America White Again” capto the avid zombies of Twitter, Facebook and other new technologies, he portrays this society, mirroring our own. Hipsters also pay the price because he does not hesitate to portray them with his own irony. Ultimately, the film is more of a critique of mankind, hopelessly doomed to self-destruct. All zombies, we are moving towards our end. We deplore the final scene which weighs down the message and clearly lacks subtlety.
The film has been in theaters since yesterday and is Jim Jarmusch’s 13th feature film. Three years after the acclaimed Paterson , the director returns to the Cannes opening. It is in competition for the Palme d’Or for the feature film.