The Girl with All The Gifts (2016) Puts The Power Of The World In The Hands Of A Black Girl
Original novel & screen play by Mike Carey
Directed by Colm McCarthy
Many zombie narratives have its origins in an imagined science. Z Nation, 28 Days Later, even going back to Day Of The Dead take on the why factor of undead outbreaks without taking away the allure of what makes the story scary or compelling. This is an effective approach The Girl With All The Gifts takes. The idea of what we have or haven't discovered yet that can turn alarmingly deadly to everyone is cause for panic. It's almost brilliant cinematically for our times where some are purchasing overpriced zombie survival kits in jest while you can watch others on NatGeo as if someone pitched 'Survivalists Cribs' to an executive. The Girl With All The Gifts pricks you with this fear by breaking it down to the ultimatums each character faces.
Alongside this grander story is an endearing portrait of a young girl named Melanie (Sennia Nanua) who lives like a model prisoner, full of unwavering politeness and creativity in the most bleak of circumstances. She is so eager for life it pains to witness her stale routine and mostly discouraged curiosity, only shaken by a turn of events that leads to highly intelligent decisions she makes autonomously for someone so young. Living up to the film's title, Nanua's performance is the nucleus of what makes The Girl With All The Gifts so refreshing. The intention is to show her relationships with the people who care for, loathe/fear, and coldly use her for experimental purposes. Even Hannibal Lectering Melanie doesn't stop her teacher Helen (Gemma Arterton) from her instinct towards compassion. Sergeant Parks (Paddy Considine) is a harsh reminder of the duality she houses while Dr. Caldwell (played by badass Glenn Close) only sees Melanie as her lab rat.
For those who loved the book, I hope Mike Carey satisfies your tenets for a successful screen adaptation. McCarthy does fantastic work with warmth, tone, and emotion in the ways in which he uses the camera's eye to subjectively magnify the feeling of both the characters and the audience. This UK effort does offer some American allegorical marks of how some of us across the pond discuss under served children in our educational system in general. The Girl With All The Gifts is beautiful and sad. In some spots it'll make you smile, and I hope accept its ideology of harsh necessity in what the future holds.