In a dystopian near future, humanity has been ravaged by a mysterious fungal disease. The afflicted are robbed of all free will and turned into flesh-eating 'hungries'. Humankind's only hope is a small group of hybrid children who crave human flesh but retain the ability to think and feel. The children go to school at an army base in rural Britain, where they're subjected to cruel experiments by Dr. Caroline Caldwell (Glenn Close). School teacher Helen Justineau (Gemma Arterton) grows particularly close to an exceptional girl named Melanie (Sennia Nanua), thus forming a special bond. But when the base is invaded, the trio escape with the assistance of Sgt. Eddie Parks (Paddy Considine) and embark on a perilous journey of survival, during which Melanie must come to terms with who she is.
In the book, Helen Justineau is described as a dark-skinned black woman in her 40's. Miss Justineau's dark skin is also a draw for Melanie, as the character states more than once in the book. Melanie also considers her teacher the most beautiful woman in the world. An excerpt from the book says; 'Although Miss Justineau's face stands out anyway because it's such a wonderful, wonderful colour. It's dark brown, like the wood of the trees in Melanie's rainforest picture whose seeds only grow out of the ashes of a bushfire, or like the coffee that Miss Justineau pours out of her flask into her cup at break time. Except it's darker and richer than either of those things, with lots of other colours mixed in, so there isn't anything you can really compare it to'. A short story written by Melanie in class describes Miss Justineau's general appearance: "Once upon a time there was a very beautiful woman. The most beautiful and kind and clever and amazing woman in all the world. She was tall and not bent over, with skin so dark she was like her own shadow, and long black hair that curled around so much it made you dizzy to look at her". Gemma Arterton, who is white, was cast for the role. She was in her late 20's when the film was shot. See more »
Whilst the movie was filmed in 2015 the panoramic shot of central London containing the 'Gherkin' also shows the old building at 20 Fenchurch Street, which was demolished in 2008, its replacement, the 'Walkie Talkie' was completed in 2014. See more »
The opening scenes of The Girl with all the Gifts throw you if you know little about the film. Melanie (Sennia Nanua) is a young polite girl in a room that looks like a cell. In the morning she manacles herself into a wheel chair while armed soldiers push her to her classroom lessons along with other children in a similar state. Melanie remains unfailingly polite and we also realise she is clever.
Are these children gifted? Part of some experiment? Why are the soldiers armed and remain vigilant?
We soon find out when one soldier bursts in and rubs his arm with his spit. It looks like these children have cannibalistic tendencies, we already see Melanie given food which consisted of worms.
The film is a take on the Zombie movie, society has collapsed because of a fungal infection of the brain turning people into zombies and it is evolving. These children were rescued from a hospital as babies and raised by the army. Dr Caroline Caldwell (Glenn Close) is the scientist who sees Melanie and others to be experimented so she can find a cure for this fungus.
Helen Justineau (Gemma Arterton) is the teacher who wants to protect Melanie from the soldiers and Dr Caldwell. She seems to have bonded with Melanie and even Melanie shows a protective attitude towards her even when she needs to feed.
When the army base is in invaded by the zombies this three along with some soldiers escape and head for safety to another mobile unit. However it is clear society has broken down, the zombies are going through an evolution process and Dr Caldwell might be too late to develop a vaccine.
This is probably the most striking British zombie film since 28 Days Later. It is a low budget film shot mainly in and around the Midlands. Director Colm McCarthy makes an interesting opening to this film and best use of the small budget for some special effects shots. He keeps the story human, the development of the relationship between Melanie and Justineau. Dr Caldwell supplies the scientific explanations but the story dos slow down in parts over halfway through.
A wonderful central performance from Sennia Nanua who shows she is a talent to watch.
19 of 36 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this