The Girl with All the Gifts (2016)

The Girl with All the Gifts
Director: Colm McCarthy
Writer: Mike Carey
Based on: his novel
Cast: Sennia Nanua, Gemma Arterton, Glenn Close, Paddy Considine, Fisayo Akinade
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 30.9.2016
[Review by cornholio.]

Plot:
Melanie (Sennia Nanua) has a very regular life. She gets up in the morning, gets dressed, sits herself down in her chair and waits to be strapped down by the soldiers lead by Sergeant Parks (Paddy Considine). When her legs, arms and head are secure, she is rolled to class together with the other children. Her favorite teacher is Miss Justineau (Gemma Arterton) who sometimes tells them stories. But her routine is destroyed when she is first carted off by Dr. Caldwell (Glenn Close) who wants to perform some kind of surgery on her – and then the military base she lives at is overrun by hungries. And suddenly Melanie finds her life turned upside down – and she has to learn the truth about her world and herself.

After having read the novel, I expected many things of The Girl with All the Gifts and I’m glad to say that it absolutely delivered. It’s a fantastic film.

[Very slight SPOILERS]

The Girl with All the Gifts really is excellent on pretty much every level: it has great cinematography and a creepy soundtrack and good special effects. It has a wonderful cast – and I thought that they dealt nicely with switching around the race of several of the characters, kind of making up for the whitewashing of Miss Justineau by having to other characters be black (Melanie and Kieran are white in the novel, Miss Justineau is black, in the film it’s the other way round).

So, on a technical level it’s top and on the story level it is, too. I may have liked the fungal theory a little better in the book, I thought it made slightly more sense there, but the deviations are small and didn’t bother me much. And I still simply love the idea of completely inverting what zombies usually stand for: instead of the unavoidable death, they become a symbol for a new beginning.

And it tells this fresh story with wonderful characters who I had to care for, who all have their own understandable inner life. They even get to crack jokes every once in a while.

There is only one thing I would have really liked to be different: I would have loved it if they had dared to really make the zombie children like Melanie ugly. Most of the time you really don’t see that anything is different about them – and I would have liked it if it had been more visible.

But hey, if that is the only thing I really have to criticize about a film, I know that I have just seen a damn good one.

Summarizing: Two enthusiastic thumbs up.

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