News from the Locarno Festival

The Girl With All The Gifts

Piazza Grande

The Girl With All The Gifts by Colm McCarty



The first images of The Girl With All The Gifts take us into a maximum-security prison. The inmates are wearing the orange outfits notorious since Guantanamo. They are bound hand and foot to wheelchairs. They are children…

Based on the novel of the same name by Mike Carey, Colm McCarthy’s film preserves the book’s basic framework, using its genre to interpret a series of present-day concerns. The film’s strength lies in maintaining a precious and difficult equilibrium between the demands of its frame of reference (the zombie movie, with incursions into the war film) and the desire to talk about more (the question of how to live with the other).

We’re in a dystopian world where humanity is confined to a few hold-out islands, surrounded by multitudes of zombies who wake as soon as they smell flesh. A handful of people, the only survivors of an attack on a military base, must find a safe place. The tension that in the early scenes weighs entirely on the imprisoned children now affects the members of the group, who in order to survive must place their trust in the young Melanie.

The skilfully cast actors that the production was able to attract have the task of giving depth to the characters, who are constructed around traditional models: Paddy Considine as the expedition leader, Glenn Close as a scientist who prioritizes experimentation over human life and most of all the pairing of Gemma Arterton and newcomer Sennia Nanua as Melanie, truly convincing in switching from the sweetness of a 10-year-old girl to explosive violence. The two have the task of portraying a story of love, an antidote to the vision of a world where humanity seems to have died. 

Carlo Chatrian

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