Warm Bodies (2013)
“Don’t be creepy. Don’t be creepy. Don’t be creepy.” ~ R
“What’s wrong with me?”
It is not very often that I will watch a film and immediately lock onto it in a way that makes it certain that it will become, and remain, one of my favorite movies. When it does I know it, though, and am usually immediately burning to tell people about it. Warm Bodies, which I watched this afternoon, is one of those films. I could say that I should have known I loved it because a) I am a sucker for well-told stories of love, b) that I have always had a thing for good zombie movies, and c) that unexpected tales of human connection, especially when both music and love are heavily involved, are my cup of coffee (I try, but I never can get the hang of tea).
We first meet R, the only part of his name he remembers, wandering about his “neighborhood”, which his an overrun with zombies big city airport. R is our narrator, our limited guide into this new world order, and we get to see R’s version of this world from his perspective. It is impossible not to start to connect to R and his existential crisis he seems to be having. It is also not hard to miss the jabs at current society, especially when R waxes wistfully on how it must have been before, when we all could connect and express, told in his narration while we see flashes of what our own reality is often peppered with, people wandering nearly as aimlessly as R and his fellow zombies, locked and chained to our mobile devices.
Beyond R’s words and semi-tour of post-zombie apocalypse life, we are also gifted some great musical guiding, with the perfect first song choice of Jimmy Cliff’s Sitting In Limbo.
Sitting In Limbo :: Jimmy Cliff
We learn early on that R is fascinated by the trappings of humanity, and is quite the collector of various “human” things that he brings back to his airplane home. Music seems to be his favorite human thing, especially his record player and eclectic collection of vinyl records. R has a musical ritual of putting on a record side, sitting down in one of the airplane seats, leaning back and listening. I think it was at that moment, with R listening to one of his records (John Waite’s album, No Brakes), that I knew I was falling for this movie, and a little bit for R, too.
Missing You :: John Waite
This is the first song we hear R actively listen to, and it is also the song that plays in his head when he first sees Julie. She is half-kneeling, fully armed, and shooting zombies left and right, and in the midst of all the chaos and the clatter, and the flying bodies, Missing You starts playing and R begins to wake up.
There is the unfortunate moment when R kills Julie’s human boyfriend, something he tells “us” he wishes we did not have to see, and eats his brain, thus taking in memories of Julie. It is hard to know, at first, if it is the memories of a love once shared, or R’s reaction to love and memories (albeit someone else’s) that fuels him to save Julie, but save her he does, and thus a very human connection begins to form.
Music plays a big part in Julie and R’s connection, and is what seems to start to bring them closer. It is used in some instances to move the plot along, in a music montage sort of way, but it is not heavy handed or obviously manipulative at all. For me, it worked because the music choices felt genuine, as did the progression and pacing of their relationship.
Hungry Heart :: Bruce Springsteen
There is humor and heart in what happens, and it is honestly hard to resist R as we see music and love save him. I mean, don’t we all want to be saved by such things in this life? I know that I do.
Shelter from the Storm :: Bob Dylan
The movie, and the book it came from, has an obvious Romeo and Juliet story to it, to this there is no doubt. I mean, the lead characters are Julie and R, there is a balcony scene, and there is death and differences and star-crossed love, but it is done in a way that both pokes fun at the similarity, and like a good cover song, takes the original and makes it their own. This is the stuff of good young love stories that tie-in the supernatural aspects, and this film, and story, are everything the Twilight series was not. This has great writing, acting and a love story, that despite all the unreal scenarios and settings, is actually very believable.
I laughed, I smiled, and yes, I even cried, and when the credits began to roll I wanted more, not just of R and Julie, but of their friends, too (R’s friend, recovering zombie Marcus, played by Rob Corddry, and Julie’s friend Nora, played by Analeigh Tipton).
And, like most movies I add to my list of favorites, I loved the soundtrack.
Midnight City :: M83
Runaway :: The National
“Don’t be creepy. Don’t be creepy. Don’t be creepy.”