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The Dead Don't Die

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When six years ago Jim Jarmusch entered with Only Left Alive in the vampiric universe, he was not only influencing his very personal approach to genre cinema, he was also exercising the most coherent of creative steps combining form and subtexts. The filmmaker who in each film talked about what happens in life when nothing happens, entering the most boring of stocks. What could be more tedious than eternity, than the future of a leech condemned to wander through time and endlessly?

However, after two films of great cohesion with his work, the formidable Paterson (2016), routine poetry, monotony and everyday life away from realism, and the documentary about Stooges Gimme (2016), with Iggy Pop, Everlasting creature of his cinema, Jarmusch's approach to the walking dead sounded in principle to redundancy. And it really is.

It is quite possible that The Dead Don't Die just content to the fans of the director of Stranger Than Paradise and Down by Law. Because, although in principle in a zombie movie all its singularities fit together, the strangeness, lack of communication, delinquency and the clash of cultures, it also sins of a certain complacency. And even his fans, and this critic is, will be able to see that, with less visual power than on other occasions, nothing surprises.

The famous repetitions of dialogues and motives, here with that triple entrance to the cafeteria and the same feeling, it's like if a wild animal has done it. A certain metalanguage that does not circulate throughout the story except in two specific moments, a few winks, both to its cinema and to that of the subgenre in which it has been introduced, perhaps too obvious and explicit: the living dead Iggy Pop, addicted to coffee; the Ghost Dog katana; the tomb of Sam Fuller; the Pontiac of George A. Romero; Nosferatu's shirt. Well, all very stylish and moderately funny, but with a long lightness and a short fascination.

There remains, therefore, its political message, inevitable in a zombie movie, but even here The Dead Don't Die returns to its explicitness, and the message of a certain superficiality. If the contemporary evil of human beings is in materialism (once again, verbalized message), and we are all already undead, slaves each of a private drug that can go from tennis to comics, the moral may perhaps include the movie too. And those of us who have always been unconditional of their sophistication and exquisite calm can be one step away from a critical detachment prior to abandonment.

Circumstantial dialogues, mortals, contemplative attitudes, on the edge of the bland, the second intentions and the continuous winks to their own actors and the subgenre cinema are the building material of this story, to which, if you want to squeeze, it can be granted political intention, ideological sense and a little hand of transcendence: but, no, it is inconsequential, like so many others of Jarmusch, although with the notable difference that on this occasion it does not conceal his disbelief, his frivolity and his desire to block his way to all that funambular criticism that has been placing it in decades beyond a sagacity and a subtlety that he probably despises.

It is, without more, a great and very funny trash. And he adorns it with the actors we want to see, making the hat, and with passages worthy of the laughs it provokes, like Swinton and her katana, or like those conversations between Murray and Driver about the music or script details ("This can only end badly" is really brilliant). It is probably Jarmusch's film that most people outside his "cinematic significance" like the most, while being the less liked by more contextualized audiences and critics.

Average: 5.4 (727 votes)
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