Thursday, 18 June 2015

EIFF 2015 - Maggie

Maggie is being sold on it being a zombie movie and the movie in which the world discovers that Arnie can act.
Only one of these facts are true and shockingly it is the second one because the former Governer and Terminator Arnold Schwarzenegger delivers what is arguably his finest on screen performance to date (although is that difficult given his previous benchmarks? After all he is a movie star rather than an actor).
As a father struggling to come to terms with the fact this his daughter will evolve into a zombie, Arnie delivers a surprisingly tender and emotive performance, even shedding the odd tear or two.
Despite it being marketed as a zombie movie, it is a far away from your typical zombie flick as Let The Right One In is from a vampire movie.
There is no widespread panic, massive scenes of desolation or Arnie fighting off hordes of the undead.
Instead at the heart of the film is a family drama where a biological outbreak has created a disease that causes people to slowly turn into the undead.
The disease is treated in the early stages just like any other, with patients patched up and sent home with a pamphlet on preventing the spread of the disease until it is time for them to "turn" and they are shipped off to quarantine.
Quarantine is meant to be where the infected are cared for in their final days but according to some, it is in reality a horrific place where all the infected are left to rot and feed off each other.
And so to the central crux of the story and what Maggie is really about.
The film is actually a comment on the moral dilemma of assisted suicide. Should Arnold allow his daughter to get taken to quarantine where the quality of her life is not assured and she slowly and painfully deteriorates into someone that they and she herself no longer recognises or does he do the humane thing and help her end her life?
All three central performances are strong, with Breslin providing a lot of pain and empathy as the girl who will turn and Joely Richardson offering a counterpoint to Arnold's desire to protect his daughter as the stepmom who doesn't see Maggie as one of her own.
The tagline for the film could have been "Don't Get Too Close" but this is close to being the freshest take on the zombie film since 28 Days Later and won't be undead on arrival in cinemas this July.

4 stars

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