Since he became a corpse, R has been living in a world of isolation. He shuffles through his days aimlessly, with little more than the syllable that is his name to communicate with his only zom-buddy, M. What good is it, R wonders, to continue un-living in this limbo between death and the tantalizingly unattainable life?
Warm Bodies delivers a Shaun-of-the-Dead-like comedy, centering a social commentary around the zombie genre, only this time our protagonist is one of the undead.
I tip my hat to the screenplay, written by Jonathan Levine, based on Isaac Marion’s (click link to visit his blog) book of the same title. The writing is top-notch, delivering delicious comic relief amidst scenes dripping with tension.
R’s singular method of communicating with the audience comes via voice-over, and so his monologue has a lot of weight to carry until R meets Juliette. Nicholas Hoult (you may remember him from About A boy) portrays well the zombie-with-a-heart, somewhere between dead walking and the comatose state of the text-messaging teen: you know he’s not really living, but somewhere down deep there’s a person wanting to be freed to enjoy a fulfilling life, not unlike Juliette who also suffers the isolated life. That gaze is not the look of a zombie about to bite, but of a youth in love. It’s hard to tell the difference, I know, but he really hates hurting people. R confides in us that he doesn’t want to kill anybody, he eats brains for their memories, his only relief from the dead life. He is doomed to live vicariously through, and at the expense of his victims.
As Juliete, Teresa Palmer is the apple of R’s eye. R needed a vision to inspire him – a focal point for his dreams. More precisely, a girl with brains… wielding a shotgun with blonde locks that flow in the wind.
The parallels are not subtle, but the genre-defying romantic zomedy does well to clearly self-define. Juliette is, of course, the forbidden and only love that R will pursue, and he will do so at any cost. After all, what’s he got to lose? A limb? Possibly that and worse as Juliette’s father, played by John Malkovich, is the trigger-happy leader of the last living city in this apocalyptic setting, owning its survival to isolationism.
It’s true, it’s a bit obvious. Still, it’s worth seeing if you don’t mind the zombie gore scenes. This film takes the absurd, even by movie standards, and points out something even more glaringly obvious, that our culture is self-seeking and by default, numb to its own decay.
That might sound like a movie-lover’s romanticized read into a zombie flick, but that’s what the story infers. While we may not be eating brains, how many of us try to live life invulnerable to the world? As Warm Bodies clearly points out, the real problem is not one of the mind, but of the heart made sick by hope deferred. If you’re seeking love, discontent with the everyday shuffle, grow a heart before its too late, even if it kills you. Some things are worse than death. And if you don’t believe me, take it from a guy whose new-year’s resolution was to eat healthier people.