Character: Helen Justineau
Production Status: Post-Production
Release Date: September 9, 2016 (UK)
Director: Colm McCarthy
Writers: Mike Carey (novel), Mike Carey (screenplay)
Genre: Drama, Horror, Thriller
MPAA Rating: n/a
The near future; humanity has been all but destroyed by a mutated fungal disease that eradicates free will and turns its victims into flesh-eating “hungries”. Only a small group of children seem immune to its effects.
At an army base in rural England, this group of unique children are being studied, subjected to cruel experiments by biologist Dr. Caldwell. Despite having been infected with the zombie pathogen that has decimated the world, these children retain normal thoughts and emotions. And while still being subject to the craving for human flesh that marks the disease these second-generation “hungries” are able to think and feel making them a vital resource in the search for a cure.
The children attend school lessons daily, guarded by the ever watchful Sergeant Parks. But one little girl, Melanie, stands out from the rest. Melanie is special. She excels in the classroom, is inquisitive, imaginative and loves her favourite teacher Miss Justineau.
When the base falls, Melanie escapes along with Miss Justineau, Sergeant Parks and Dr. Caldwell. Against the backdrop of a blighted Britain, Melanie must discover what she is and ultimately decide both her own future and that of the human race.
The Girl with All the Gifts is the feature debut of director Colm McCarthy, whose TV credits include Sherlock, Doctor Who, The Tudors and Peaky Blinders.
Gemma plays Helen Justineau. Miss Justineau is the sympathetic teacher that the bright ten-year-old Melanie has a girl crush on. Miss Justineau inspires her love of learning. Gemma was kind of a controversial cast, because Helen Justineau is explicitly referred to as dark-skinned many times in the book.
Humanity has been infected by a fungal virus able to shutdown then control our neurosystems. The infected, or “hungries”, feed on human flesh and spread the infection through blood and spit. The few uninfected left are bunkered down in military bases or pick off the land in packs. Set in a military base named “Hotel Echo”, the inhabitants conduct research on a new breed of high functioning “hungries”. Melanie is a ten-year-old “hungry” under close observation and studied by the government. Her days are entirely spent in a cell or strapped to a wheelchair while she attends daily classes. Helen Justineau is a psychologist and teacher at the base. Torn between her hatred of the “hungries”, obligations to the military, and her developing feelings towards Melanie, Justineau is a complex woman with oodles of intricate motivations. She frequently comes in conflict with Dr. Caroline Caldwell, head honcho and woman you love to hate. As the lead researcher on base, she is a tyrant on a battlefield with no prior experience and just enough power to do some damage. Conniving, cold, and painfully stubborn, Dr. Caldwell’s arrogance and intelligence may betray her.
“I’m really excited about this film,” the 30-year-old told Digital Spy. “The script is written by the author Mike Carey and it’s his first screenplay.
“The lead girl [Sennia Nanua] in it is just wonderful. She gives a heartbreaking and beautiful performance. And it’s very realistic within its futuristic setting.
“Everyone thinks I’m playing against my type – I’m not, I’m just not wearing any make-up! I’m playing a very maternal strong character. And it’s got Glenn Close in it, who’s just brilliant, and Paddy Considine. So really great actors.”
Arterton went on to praise director Colm McCarthy and predicted that the finished product could be very special indeed.
“I haven’t seen it yet, all I know is what we shot, and the director is brilliant, and I just feel like it’s going to be a really strong film,” she added. (February 10, 2016)
Arterton plays the empathic teacher, a sort of gun-wielding Miss Honey to a zombie-fied Matilda. At one point in the film, the girl asks Considine why humans get to live, while the zombie “hungries” have to die. Is it just because the humans got here first? Plus, Arterton was keen to work with the producer, Camille Gatin. “Camille was telling me that they’d go into finance meetings where the money men would say: ‘Can you make this character into a man? There are too many women in it.’ And she just said: ‘Bye.’” (The Guardian – September 18, 2016)
From the Photo Gallery:
Cast and Crew Quotes:
• “Paddy has earned a lot of kudos for not having sold out during his career – but he’s carrying a gun in this film and loving every minute. Gemma is so lovely and sweet and I’ve been walking and hiking with Glenn – we’ve been to the Clent Hills and had a nice meal at The Fountain. We’ve also been to the Cotswolds and the Peak District. Glenn is a very class act, a real team player with no diva attitude.”
– Camille Gatin (The Girl with All the Gifts producer)