6 April, 2017.
I’m a man of relatively simple pleasures.
The occasional night out, a good book, a half way decent piece of music …
Simple stuff: that’s relatively cheap.
But relatively simple for all that.
One of those simple pleasures?
Is the occasional TV show.
Or the occasional film.
I’m thinking I’m representative of many people my age.
As I write, I’m indulging a simple pleasure. I’ve got Brian Eno’s Ambient 4: On Land on in the background.
Just to give you an example.
Just to give you another?
I’ve quite happily sat down with the 2016, Colm McCarthy directed, The Girl With All The Gifts, tonight.
‘Wow!’ is decidedly appropriate.
The Girl With All The Gifts is set in the not so distance future: a future where the UK’s population has been turned into (almost) flesh eating ‘hungries’: by a mysterious fungal infection.
The film opens to show us a young girl, Melanie, played by Sennia Nanua, waking up in what looks suspiciously like a prison cell: taking down a pictures to hide them from her captors.
Captors who strap her in a wheelchair … and take her, and other children like her, to a very unusual classroom …
Where they’re taught by teacher, Miss Justineau — Gemma Arterton.
At one point … ? Miss Justineau touches Melanie on the head.
Only to be reminded by Sergeant Parkes — Paddy Considine — that these children are second generation Hungries who’ve eaten they’re way out of their infected mothers.
And who would quite happily eat their captors, should captors not be wearing a special gel.
The base the children are held in?
Is not only prison and school.
But also lab: where Dr Caroline Caldwell — Oscar nominated, Glenn Close* — urgently trying to find a cure for the infection.
And desperately wanting Melanie’s brain, in order to do so.
It’s only when Dr Caldwell has Melanie at her mercy …
That the otherwise secure base they’re in … gets attacked by hungries …
You can tell things are going to end badly, can’t you … ?
About that ‘Wow!’ … ?
I have to admit to not being a fan of the zombie apocalypse type of film.
So something in the genre would have to be really special to grab my attention.
The trailer certainly did.
As did a favourable review from Mark Kermode.
That got me thinking I should see this film.
I’m glad I did.
It’s got a strongly written script. by M. R. Carey, who wrote the novel the film is based on.
It’s a beautiful looking film, as well: all the way from ruined shopping precincts, and high streets … and a ruined London.
And it’s got possibly one of the strongest casts I’ve seen in a genre movie for sometime.
Possibly, one could argue that The Girl With All The Gifts is derivative of 28 Days Later.
I can see why. Both films see an abandoned Britain over-run by diseased humanity, both, arguably, owe Day of the Triffids a nod† … and both feature a small faux-family as its central cast.
Although I could also argue The Girl With All The Gifts owes as much to The Midwich Cuckoos as out does to Day of the Triffis.
I gave 28 Days Later 3 stars, back when I watched it. Meaning it was a film I felt you should watch, if not necessarily keep.
I think with its undertones — that the way we treat our children can do them serious damage, that Glenn Close’s Caldwell is a scientist less human that what’s she’s fighting, or that we have to let our kids have the future — make this the infinitely more satisfying — and better — film.
Go watch The Girl With All The Gifts.
The Girl With All The Gifts
* The only other film I’ve seen Glenn Close in? Is Fatal Attraction. No surprises, there, then: everybody and their pet gerbil has seen Fatal Attraction!
† Both have films have scenes where the characters have to flee or explore an abandoned/overgrown city in order to survive: The Girl with All The Gifts shows us a base under siege I found reminiscent of the parts of Day of The Triffids where the heroes of the story are living on a besieged farm … and both see scientists possibly responsible for the mess: although that’s more a feature of 28 Days Later, I believe.