Oh how I loved Warm Bodies. The delicious Nicholas Hoult would have made it worth watching had it been terrible but far from it, it was also a wonderful film.
The premise of a Zombie falling in love could have been terrible, but with a killer combination of great acting, a hilarious inner monologue and sensitive touch, this film came off just right. Based on the novel by Issac Marion and adapted and directed by Jonathan Levine, the book and film make allusions to Romeo and Juliet. Which becomes particularly clear when R and Julie have a rather familiar conversation on a balcony.
R is played Nicholas Hoult who began his career as the adorable Marcus Brewer in About A Boy. He then went on to star as Tony Stonem, in the fantastic TV series Skins and is currently one of the most attractive men ever. This is on full display in Warm Bodies particular when R (in the bloom of love) starts to look less dead.
Hoult was a perfect casting choice for the role of R. He proved in Skins that he is an actor like Ryan Gosling, at his best when he conveys emotion through body language and minimal dialogue. You really feel his inability to communicate as a zombie, and effort he has to put behind each word. Couple this with some adorably dry voice over about “Not being creepy” and “Just wanting to connect with people” and any girl would would get on that, Zombie or not. Hoult’s performance is stand out.
But that’s not to say that Hoult’s love Julie is a bucket of innards. This role is probably Teresa Palmer’s biggest role to date and while I previous knew her as just another pretty blond Australian who moved to Hollywood, I now know she’s got some acting chops too. Her chemistry with Hoult is just the right mix of sweet and sexy and she is natural and vibrate in a role could have gone down a cheesy path.
Other performances worth mentioning is John Malkovich as Julie’s father and the leader of the humans and Rob Corddry pitch perfect zombie best friend Marcus.
But what really makes this film though, is a brilliant script. The film takes it’s sweet time to develop the romance between the leads and is all the better for it. This film is really about the power of the human connection and we all can understand going through our lives like Zombies when love and human interaction has abandoned us. R’s desperate need to connect is echoed in us all especially in these times where people text rather than call and post on your facebook page rather than getting a coffee. This film explores this idea quietly and without a heavy hand, making it stand out against the current crop of films that often resort to bashing their audience over the head with their message.
The films dialogue is similarly under stated. It is often witty but makes a point of not having a lot of banter. This is a lovely way to keep the film authentic as obviously every word is an effort for these Zombies so their aren’t going to chatting, throwing in zingers at ever turn. When the Zombies do talk though, it is always hilarious, in a brilliantly monosyllabic way.
The only fault of this film is that sometimes the logic of the Zombie universe is unclear. Like when R smuggles Julie into and out of the airport which is his home. He supposedly protects her by telling her to pretend to be a Zombie, but this strategy only seems to work half the time. This is a bit logically flawed since this is a world where Zombies can smell brains. So seem unlikely a bit of play acting could fool them, at all.
Released on February 1st in US, this film has become a run away hit grossing over 100 million dollars, triple it’s budget. Fingers crossed that this the film that launches Nicholas Hoult into mega stardom, because I want to see a lot more of him, preferably shirtless.