*So titled to avoid confusion with Maggie the Smith.

***SPOILERS***

The movie Maggie takes us down a new zombie path. Very different from the visceral and brutal fight for survival of The Walking Dead and the stylish science fiction of the Resident Evil franchise, Maggie comes closest to World War Z’s personal journey through a midapocalyptic wasteland. It takes the personal angle, and makes it simply heartbreaking.

Abigail Breslin gives a quietly powerful performance, as the title character. When we join her story, Maggie exists in a place between life and death. That’s not exactly right. Technically, she’s already dead, living on an existential road that inevitably leads to the moment when she’ll turn. There’s no cure, only a cocktail that puts an end to the process. With extreme pain.

Maggie’s father searches for her, finds her, and takes her home to be loved until her final moments. Arnold Schwarzenegger, playing beautifully against type, is Wade. He is a father facing the unfaceable, with compassion, kindness, and the courage to make choices no parent should be asked to make. Schwarzenegger’s weathered features display a maelstrom contained in one man’s experience. When his little children are sent to live with relatives and eventually his wife (a wonderful, understated Joely Richardson) leaves out of fear of the stepdaughter she loves, Wade remains in the heart of tragedy, for the love of Maggie.

For all its quietude and often isolated grace, Maggie is not without moments of violence and blood, gore even. Still it’s a departure from stereotypical zombification adventures. At its painfully beating heart it is a story of family and love and fear and courage. Maggie’s final moments are honorable and beautiful, played out with a context of grief and loss. The way she chooses to spare her father the anguish of living with ending her, carried out on a flutter of memory, is etched on my memory. As I said, not your typical Schwarzenegger. Not your typical zombie movie. Not your typical movie, period. And all the better for it.

Maggie Official Trailer

Advertisements