“I Think We’re Alone Now” is a slow burning, visually stunning film revealing the loneliness of the human condition; Dinklage and Fanning are perfect!
I Think We’re Alone Now has not gotten the love I feel like it deserves. I enjoyed it immensely! Reed Morano (The Handmaid’s Tale), the cinematographer and director, really created a beautiful post-apocalyptic drama. I watched it a second time today, just to listen carefully. This was the first film that I was ever asked to wear head phones for a film, and it turned out to be important — ensuring I wouldn’t miss any of the little audio details.
When anyone thinks about the end of the world and the word apocalypse, our first thoughts go directly to zombies. In I Think We’re Alone Now, this is not the case. And the world does go on in an oddly normal way, just on an incredibly smaller scale. We never really learn why everyone else died, just that they did.
I can understand how many people are finding this to be a slow film, but I did not. There isn’t something huge happening every minute. No gory monsters, nothing hiding under the bed. Maybe it was the acting, which was terrific. Maybe it was the echoing voices of the people from the past, that you could hear murmuring in the headphones. Or, maybe it was the fact that I can relate to feeling alone, even when there are a million people around.
Whatever it was, I was mesmerized, and I got very caught up in the emotions of the film.
Del (Peter Dinklage) is a loner, who when the world disappears, continues with his simple life as a librarian. Because seemingly everyone in town dropped dead except for him, he goes house to house, retrieving overdue library books, cleaning up the bodies and tidying up his small east coast community.
Del seems content in his life, until one day, fireworks announce that he is not alone and a young girl, drunk and having crashed a car, explodes into his life. Grace (Elle Fanning) destroys his solitude, his order, and he has trouble dealing with it.
I admit that I felt like she had come from “somewhere”, she hadn’t just been driving around aimlessly all through the first part of the apocalypse. It didn’t matter though, I was happy for him that he wouldn’t have to be alone anymore. But as grumpy as Del is to Grace’s contrasting personality, there is something there. They are like night and day, and I found myself wanting them to be friends. We need to be with people, don’t we?
The chemistry between them was there, despite his reservations. They both finally compromise: She begins to help him with his daily tasks of cleaning the houses, and she gets him to chill out and talk to her. Dinklage and Fanning are both inspired actors, and even with a shortage of words, volumes were spoken about how we perceive the world.
Without giving away spoilers, the film does eventually present us with a surprising and unique Twilight Zone type Sci-fi twist. The world may not be as simple as Del thought it was. Grace — as a surrogate for the audience — wants, no needs, him to step up and be the hero. Unfortunately, he finds it a very hard person to be, even though he has started to care about her.
I found the turn to be very powerful, and quite a statement on how some people would want to escape reality. But I imagine some audiences could find it a jarring change.
The bottom line for me is how I felt, and I felt good watching this film. I cared about the characters, I wanted them to survive and be together. It is a subtle film and is one you need to pay attention to. Listen to it with headphones as if it was your favorite album, while you’re in your comfy PJs.
Additionally, as I said earlier, I loved the beautiful stylized universe Morano created. The cinematography was intense in places. The whole world was gone except Del and Grace in their dual dystopia. Empty streets, with white Xs in front of the cleaned houses. The dreamy and foggy lake. Del dragging a body in a colorful quilt through mounds of graves was hypnotic as it bumped over the ground. The two of them driving in a car with Grace bumping her head to the music, loud, wild and free.
I Think We’re Alone Now may not be the biggest film out this year, but it is one to watch, absorb and think about. It has made me want to not miss out on anything in life. Who knows what could happen tomorrow?
One note: I did keep expecting to hear the song “I think We’re Alone Now” (Tommy James and the Shondells, not Tiffany) and wasn’t fulfilled. I really like that song, but I’m pretty sure I will get over it.