Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5.
USA/Sweden/South Africa, 2019. Animal Kingdom, Film i Vast. Screenplay by Jim Jarmusch. Cinematography by Frederick Elmes. Produced by Joshua Astrachan, Carter Logan. Music by Squrl. Production Design by Alex DiGerlando. Costume Design by Catherine George. Film Editing by Affonso Goncalves. Cannes Film Festival 2019.
Jim Jarmusch follows his delicious take on the vampire genre with a film set in the very popular world of zombies but filtered through his whimsical imagination. Leaning more on inspiration from The Birds than Night of the Living Dead, he quietly builds interest in a series of characters in a small town; the focus is on laconic police officers Bill Murray and Adam Driver, whose busiest day often involves calming the temper of MAGA-hat-wearing farmer Steve Buscemi or checking in on Tom Waits as a mentally unstable loner living in the woods. Their duties really ramp up when the unlikely event of the earth being knocked off its axis causes the unnatural phenomenon of deceased citizens rising from their graves and wandering the town in search of live humans to devour. Not a good time for big-city hipsters Selena Gomez and friends to be passing through, but the presence of the strange new undertaker, a samurai-sword-wielding Scottish woman played by frequent Jarmusch star Tilda Swinton, is suddenly very convenient. Cleverly handing out in-jokes like party favours, from the casting of Iggy Pop to the tombstone bearing the name of Samuel Fuller, this droll comedy never gets out of first gear, Jarmusch has a good time delving into the genre but doesn’t seem have much to say except for a few predictable jokes about undead bodies staring at their smartphones. The whole thing is soullessly clever and, while there are familiar faces in welcome cameos (Carol Kane, Rosie Perez), other actors are wasted in larger roles, none of them more so than Chloe Sevigny, who is tasked with the job of crying and complaining and little else.