The Dead Zone (1983)

(In French, On TV, November 2016) I’m writing this a few days after the close of the 2016 American presidential election, in a haze where I’m not sure what’s real and what isn’t. It’s not necessarily the best time to tackle The Dead Zone, or maybe exactly the right time. Here, an unassuming teacher gains the power to foretell the future and see the past, leading to a complicated life and terrifying visions of what would happen if a local loon became president. Best time or worst time? I’ll tell you in four years. Until then, there’s an impossibly young Christopher Walken’s strangely compelling performance to admire and Martin Sheen as an unhinged politician that contrasts with his latter President Barlett. I’ve read the Stephen King novel too long ago to be specific about the details, but The Dead Zone seems to play loose with the details of the original story, which is not necessarily a bad thing. While writer/director David Cronenberg’s film can hit a few rough patches at times, with ambitions exceeding the means at its disposal, The Dead Zone remains engrossing throughout … and suddenly seems like a newly relevant film at a time when we’re grasping at any attempt to predict the future.

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