The Dead Don’t Die (2019)

The Dead Don’t Die
Director: Jim Jarmusch
Writer: Jim Jarmusch
Cast: Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Tom Waits, Chloë Sevigny, Steve Buscemi, Eszter Balint, Danny Glover, Maya Delmont, Taliyah Whitaker, Jahi Di’Allo Winston, Caleb Landry Jones, RZA, Larry Fessenden, Rosie Perez, Jodie Markell, Carol Kane, Tilda Swinton, Sara Driver, Iggy Pop, Selena Gomez, Austin Butler
Seen on: 15.6.2019

Content Note: sexism, racism

Centerville is a small, sleepy town where nothing much ever happens. Or at least, nothing happened so far. When police officers Cliff (Bill Murray) and Ronnie (Adam Driver) get called to investigate a stolen chicken, they realize that something isn’t right: the sun isn’t setting. Their clocks stopped working. Oh, and the dead start rising again. Soon the entire town has to face a zombie horde.

I didn’t hear much good about The Dead Don’t Die before seeing it, but I still had hope that everyone was wrong (because Jarmusch’s two last films, Paterson and Only Lovers Left Alive, were my two favorites of his ever since Dead Man). Unfortunately it was me who was wrong to hope.

The film poster showing a full moon behind Iggy Pop as a zombie behind Mindy (Chloë Sevigny) behind Cliff (Bill Murray) behind Ronnie (Adam Driver) behind a small Zelda (Tilda Swinton).

I really don’t know how this film could go so very wrong. The combination of that cast, Jarmusch’s dead-pan sense of humor and zombies sounds like a dream come true. On paper at least. Unfortunately, it is not supposed to be. The execution of this combination just doesn’t work at all.

That starts with the title song that already got on my nerves with the second repetition. The pacing was also off, making the film feel way too long. And the criticism of capitalism at the end of the film – which is usually something I very much enjoy – feels shoehorned in and just doesn’t fit with the rest of the film.

Police Officers Cliff (Bill Murray) and Ronnie (Adam Driver) with mechanic Hank (Danny Glover).

To add insult to injury, Mindy is a sexist, stereotypical mess of a character and Zelda (Tilda Swinton) is a racist mess. It seems Swinton has learned nothing from the Dr Strange debacle and decided to take it up a notch here. As somebody who really is a great fan of her work, this doubling down hurts a lot. And it hurts the film.

Overall, the film was just a disappointment. There’s not much else I can say, except that I hope that Jarmusch returns to better form with his next endeavor.

Police officers Mindy (Chloë Sevigny), Cliff (Bill Murray) and Ronnie (Adam Driver) in the police station.

Summarizing: just not good.

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