Warm Bodies, based on a novel by Isaac Marion that I haven’t read, is a modern take on Romeo and Juliet, only this time Juliet meets and falls in love with Romeo after he’s already dead. It is a tale about the power of love to induce positive change and tear down walls even in trying times — of learning to see others as individuals, looking past their superficial group characteristics, and recognizing, even accepting, differences. But all is not moonlight and roses. Life, if one can call it that, among the living and the dead is hard; and even in the end, one cannot eschew entirely a hardnosed realism, as there are some too far gone even for love to heal.
Julie, played by Aussie Teresa Palmer, is the daughter of the military leader (John Malkovich) of an authoritarian, walled compound that houses perhaps the last remaining settlement of living human beings. R, played by Nicholas Hoult, is a zombie who spends his days wandering aimlessly around an airport and occasionally feasting on the flesh of the living. He’s a little off as far as zombies go, in ways you’ll have to see for yourself.
The two meet one fateful day when Julie is out on a pharma-salvage mission with a group of her peers and R is leading a pack of zombies in a hunt for their next meal. Can these two star-crossed lovers make it work? Will the living give R a chance before putting a bullet in his brain? Will R’s fellow undead refrain from eating Julie’s?
Warm Bodies is a romantic-comedy of sorts, leavened with a dash of action and horror. The humor is dry and sardonic, and there are excellent moments of physical comedy as well. The cast generally put on good performances, Hoult in particular as the story is largely told from his character’s point of view and he narrates a good portion of it with a superb, deadpan internal monologue.
Interview with the Vampire brought us the era of the sparkly vampire, which, hopefully, culminated in the teen angst of Twilight. Let’s hope that Warm Bodies doesn’t spark a similar sparkly zombie trend. Even if it does, however, this movie is worth watching, perhaps especially for those who are dead inside.