Written and directed by Jonathan Levine and shot just down the highway in Montreal, the romantic comedy gets a refreshing new lease on life with Warm Bodies.
Based on the novel by Isaac Marion, we meet R (Nicholas Hoult), a zombie who’s a little different from all the rest, as he encounters Julie (Teresa Palmer) and rescues her from a deadly situation while she is out among the remains of the city. Julie quickly sees that R isn’t quite the same as the rest of the brain-eating horde in the world and they form a very special relationship amid their struggle for survival. As their unique bond evolves and R is becoming increasingly more human, it sets off a dramatic chain of events that begins to transform the rest of the undead and gives hope that this lifeless world isn’t dead yet.
While just another zombie movie on the surface, it’s actually a stunning shift in how we imagine the genre, pulling it off with some dry wit and real intelligence. Levine successfully keeps us engaged with some brisk storytelling that isn’t afraid to poke fun at itself as the narrative evolves into a sweet love story. While the romance is what will draw the film’s target audience, it rises above expectations thanks to some very thoughtful performances from actors who truly embrace the material.
As our hero, Hoult succeeds in making a corpse surprisingly expressive. Though most of his actual dialogue is through narration in his own head, he still comes across loud and clear as he uses his incredibly expressive face to its maximum potential. Both Hoult and Palmer have excellent on screen chemistry and it’s remarkable to watch the story between the two characters unfold when only one of the actors is doing most of the talking. Rob Corddry and John Malkovich make memorable supporting turns and add some laughs, balancing out a story that teeters on being a little too sweet at times.
At a time when our multiplexes are filled with stories of action, gross-out comedy and intense human drama, it’s a refreshing change to have a well made film that just makes you feel as nice as Warm Bodies does.
Cast: Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer
Directed by: Jonathan Levine
Top image: A scene from Warm Bodies. Courtesy eOne Films.