Not quite a classic Jarmusch or a traditional genre film where hemoglobin flows, The Dead Don’t Die may have a little trouble finding its audience.
The zombies devour everything on their passage in The Dead Don’t Die, a playful and sympathetic creation on today’s world.
There are many comedies featuring the undead, including Braindead, Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland. The Dead Don’t Die reveals a unique character, being directed by Jim Jarmusch, one of the most important contemporary filmmakers.
It only takes a few seconds to recognize his style, this cool factor that unfolds both formally and in the way he handles dialogues.His highly choreographed direction is imbued with the tradition of American independent cinema, while humor grips without laughter with an ironic melancholy that explodes with delay.
Especially since everyone wants to work with the cult director, which explains the quality of the cast gathered: certainly the most elevated of the year. Between the returned of his previous opus (Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Tilda Swinton, Steve Buscemi, Chloë Sevigny), the newcomers in his universe (Danny Glover, Caleb Landry Jones) and the successful musicians (Tom Waits, Iggy Pop, Selena Gomez, RZA), the cast is delighted to play in unison.
However, we should not expect one of those hilarious jokes where the jokes are always right. On the contrary, we find ourselves instead before a minimalist satire, meta and repetitive, probably a little too easy, which amuses itself to break the fourth wall. In fact, Jarmusch does not explore the genre so deeply as he did with the vampire (Only Lovers Left Alive), samurai (Ghost Dog) and his western (Dead Man) that he likes to stay on the surface, multiplying the blah-blah sequences by offering a little gore in the vein of what Quentin Tarantino does.
This particular transfer to parody will not please everyone, as was the case with its hilarious and completely absurd The Limits of Control. Yet this choice is explained by what he denounces: the lack of humanity, the extreme materialism and the United States of Trump where farmers are ready to blow up the face of anyone who turns out to be different from them. A dark and pessimistic vision of the future that does not make in the nuance and half-measure, to the image of this epoch where everything must be white or black.
This does not prevent the director from wandering sometimes along the way. The feature film quickly reaches its saturation point (this is no doubt normal for a work that criticizes overconsumption) and it struggles to renew itself. When it does, it ends with a horribly moralizing song, which goes on and on about all the themes that were previously discussed that were already not very subtle.
Neither a classic Jarmusch (which returns in small form after its immense Paterson) nor a traditional genre film where hemoglobin flows, The Dead Don’t Die may have a little trouble finding its audience. Yet it is an entertaining summer break, minor and fun, where some of the greatest actors take up arms and happily cut heads. Nobody does it better than Tilda Swinton.