Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Review: "The Girl With All the Gifts" is a Gift to Movie Audiences


TRASH IN MY EYE No. 22 (of 2020) by Leroy Douresseaux
[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

The Girl with All the Gifts (2016)
Running time:  111 minutes (1 hour, 51 minutes)
MPAA – R for disturbing violence/bloody images, and for language
DIRECTOR:  Colm McCarthy
WRITER:  Mike Carey (based on his novel)
PRODUCER:  Camille Gatin and Angus Lamont
EDITOR:  Matthew Cannings
COMPOSER:  Cristobal Tapia de Veer


Starring:  Sennia Nanua, Gemma Arterton, Paddy Considine, Fisayo Akinade, Anthony Welsh, Anamaria Marinca, Dominique Tipper, and Glenn Close

The Girl with All the Gifts is a 2016 British post-apocalyptic science fiction horror film from director Colm McCarthy.  Screenwriter Mike Carey adapted this film's screenplay from his 2014 novel, The Girl with All the Gifts.  The Girl with All the Gifts the movie is set in a dystopian future and follows the struggles of a scientist, a teacher, and two soldiers, and a special young girl who embark on a journey of survival.

The Girl with All the Gifts is set in the United Kingdom in a near future scenario.  Humanity has been ravaged by a mysterious disease that is caused by a parasitic fungus.  It is transmitted by bodily fluids, such as when an infected person bites an uninfected person.  The infected humans have turned into fast-moving, mindless zombies called “Hungries.”  Mankind's only hope is a small group of hybrid children, born with the fungus wrapped around their brains, making them part-human and part-Hungry.  These children crave living, human flesh, but they retain the ability to think and to learn.

On an army base, the scientist, Dr. Caroline Caldwell (Glenn Close), has been using a group of hybrid children in an attempt to develop a vaccine that would protect humans from becoming infected Hungries.  One of the children is a very special and exceptional girl named Melanie (Sennia Nanua), who has drawn the particular attention of Helen Justineau (Gemma Arterton), a young woman who is responsible for educating and for studying the children.

The hybrid children on the army base are essentially as held prisoners, guarded by a group of soldiers lead by Sergeant Eddie Parks (Paddy Considine).  When the base falls, Melanie, Justineau, Dr. Caldwell, Parks, and another soldier, Private Kieran Gallagher (Fisayo Akinade), head for London in the hope of finding help, but are they all in denial about the new order of things in a world of Hungries?

I have no trouble recommending The Girl with All the Gifts, a fantastic and truly unique film.  It is equally post-apocalyptic science fiction, zombie apocalypse horror, and road movie drama.  I could have watched another two hours of this stunning movie.  The Girl with All the Gifts is like a new take on the three films based on late author Richard Matheson's 1954 seminal post-apocalyptic novel, I Am Legend.  Those films are The Last Man on Earth (1964), The Omega Man (1971), and I Am Legend (2007), to one extent or another.

What makes this film exceptional is both the performance by and the appearance of Sennia Nanua as the film's lead character, Melanie.  She gives a honest and vibrant performance as Melanie, a child referred to as “it,” but who grows from a child seeking attention and being... hungry to a child learning to a becoming the group's guide and protector and finally to evolving into a kind of “Eve.”  Also, it is simply great to see a young actress of color as the lead in a science fiction film, especially in a movie that is led primarily by female characters.

The performances in the film are mostly poignant and quiet.  Do I have to tell you that Glenn Close gives a muscular turn as Dr. Caldwell?  Should I have to tell you that?  Well, I will tell you again that The Girl With All the Gifts is one of this decade's best genre films and that I highly recommend and might even demand that you see it.

9 of 10

Friday, October 16, 2020

BAFTA Awards 2017:  1 nomination: “Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer” (Mike Carey and Camille Gatin)

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