In the recent cinema of sweethearts, that girl next door is not dating a guy from the wrong side of the tracks. Class conflict– and the color line–are, like, so twentieth century. Loving the Other means someone or something else these days. The daughter of the police chief eyed a werewolf and a vampire in “Twilight.” In the upcoming “Beautiful Creatures,” a high-school boy will fall for a witch. And in “Warm Bodies,” Julie (Teresa Palmer), the daughter of a general, gets sweet on a zombie, “a sensitive undead slacker,” as the press notes aptly profile R. (Nicholas Hoult, “About a Boy,” “A Single Man”). R. can only remember the first letter of his name. Wearing a crimson hoodie, he stumbles around an airport populated with other zombies. His nimble mind rambles with an interior monologue: “What am I doing with my life… Why can’t I connect with people?” Turns out he suffers locked-in syndrome, like the stroke patient in “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.” He can only grunt. Who knew a zombie had more on his mind than eating the brains of the living? R. and Julie meet cute when R. and his usual human-hunters (“God, we move slow”) run into her and other heavily armed humans scavenging for postdated pharmaceuticals. R. munches on the gray matter of Julie’s freshly slaughtered boyfriend, letting R. partake of his memories. R. sees how lovely Julie is and protects her from other zombies. He shows her how to pass for dead. His kind and her kind do not mix like this. Their unnatural union triggers his metamorphosis. It’s contagious. All it takes is the sight of a couple holding hands. A clichéd travel poster will do. Once-dead hearts beat anew with a rosy glow. R. gets warmer, bleeds a little, then gets the heart and hand of the girl. Writer-director Jonathan Levine (“50/50”) adapts Isaac Marion’s novel with welcome sweet wit. With Analeigh Tipton, Rob Corddry, Dave Franco, John Malkovich, Cory Hardrict. 97m. (Bill Stamets)
“Warm Bodies” exhumes Friday.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” in words and images will be published in Spring 2022.