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Jim Jarmusch’s ‘The Dead Don’t Die’ Splits Cannes Audience: ‘Winningly Eccentric’ or ‘Invasion of Clichés’

Not everyone was left thirsty for more of Jarmusch’s zombie film

The 2019 Cannes Film Festival kicked off on Tuesday with the premiere of Jim Jarmusch’s “The Dead Don’t Die,” and the response to the zombie horror comedy was decidedly mixed.

On Twitter, several attendees at the Grand Theatre Lumiere left the premiere excited, praising Adam Driver’s performance as a self-aware small-town cop and Tilda Swinton as a Scottish immigrant with a love for katanas that proves to be quite useful when the dead pop up.

“This is a winningly eccentric film, as attuned in its own way to the rhythms of ordinary life as Jarmusch and Driver’s (even better) 2016 feature ‘Paterson,'” Robbie Cohen wrote for The Telegraph. “But there is a pessimism gnawing away in its gut that can’t be laughed off. ‘I guess all those ghost people plumb lost their goddamn minds,’ Waits wearily intones. Right on.”

But at the press screening at the Salle Debussy, the audience couldn’t muster up more than mild applause. Critic Jonathan Romney tweeted that he thought “The Dead Don’t Die” was “profoundly unnecessary, and a little bit pleased with itself.” Others compared the film’s humor and anti-consumerist message unfavorably to past zombie films that have previously taken that approach, namely “Dawn of the Dead” and “Shaun of the Dead”

“It’s the self-awareness that really hurts it. Jarmusch knows that his audience wants to see Murray and Driver riff in deadpan and that the image of Swinton strutting down the street wielding a katana will set the internet ablaze, so he offers them as much, without ever feeling the imperative to go a step beyond,” TheWrap’s Ben Croll wrote.

“The Dead Don’t Die” stars Driver and Bill Murray as a pair of cops in Centerville, USA, who find themselves overwhelmed by a zombie uprising triggered by “polar fracking.” The film’s ensemble cast includes Selena Gomez, Chloë Sevigny, Steve Buscemi, Austin Butler, RZA, Tom Waits, Danny Glover, Caleb Landry Jones, Rosie Perez and Carol Kane. Focus Features will release the film on June 14.

Check out more reactions from Cannes attendees in the tweets below.

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