Zombi child – The boredom of the undeads

Theoric movie and sometimes abstract, the new Bertrand Bonello proposes a different vision of zombies that have burst upon the Croisette. Explanations.

By Jacques Braunstein

Reading time 2 min.

Zombi child


Four, five… we don’t know anymore, zombie films in the various selections of the Cannes Film Festival : The Dead Don’t Die, Atlantique, Sick, Sick, Sick and Zombi Child of Bertrand Bonello which is our focus here… This year on the Croisette, we had to deal with the question of who embodies these undead who wander in every corner of Cannes – we even think we saw some on the Magnum Beach…

dive into a strange and fascinating universe,
the opposite of the usual B series of the genre.

First hypothesis : the cinema, which continues at the self-celebration, and to remember his past glory (at Lelouch, Bedos, Almodovar, Tarantino…) while the spectators are on their couch in front of streaming platforms, seems to be more passionate into Games of Thrones than Cannes if we believe the social medias… They hardly take a look at Cannes any more than Brad Pitt, Leonardo Di Caprio and Margot Robbie are on the steps of the Palace. Second hypothesis, these zombies represents the Western civilization as a whole which actually seems dead-alive when we observe Trump, Salvini or Bolsonaro.

The Bertrand Bonello film argues for a third explanation. What if zombie movies talk about… zombies ? Since he starts from a true story, that of a Haitian buried alive who will reappear 18 year later by explaining that he was drugged by wizards who literally zombified him – thanks to a learned cocktail of poisons – to make him work with other of their victims on a plantation. The movie, presented at the Director’s Fortnight, follows in parallel the life of his little daughter, Melissa, a border in France and her friends fascinated by her history. It contrasts the voodoo tradition with the zombie pop culture that girls are fed. But also Haiti and France… Since they are students of the Legion of Honour, an institution of excellence embodying a certain idea of the Republic and rationality (illustrated in particular bu the lectures of the Professor, at the College de France, Patrick Boucheron).

Zombi Child is an austere film that constrats with Bonello’s latest Baroque productions (L’Apollonide, Saint Laurent, Nocturama…) while Haiti and Voodoo would evoke,  in principle, images much more saturated with signs and colors. In this disjointed narrative, it’s difficult to identify with the different characters. But Zombi Child is still a dive into a strange and fascinating universe, the opposite of the usual B series of the genre.

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