Written by: Mike Makowsky
Starring: Peter Dinklage, Elle Fanning, Paul Giamatti, Charlotte Gainsbourg
Living with grief comes naturally to the process after losing someone. It comes as part of the acceptance following all of the other steps with no real shortcuts available to remedy the unavoidable. This becomes difficult just for one person, where I Think We’re Alone Now posits how this process would work when the entire world has seemingly disappeared from the face of the Earth. Moody, atmospheric, but most importantly, ponderous, this feature hunkers down on the feelings of its narrative, which shows it working at its best.
Taking place after an apocalypse wiping out most of humanity, Del (Peter Dinklage) lives in his town’s library and spends his days clearing out and cleaning the houses of those who have died. One day, he encounters another survivor, who introduces the possibility for Del to interact with others once again, which comes with its complications.
Del’s struggles through this film come through in multiple facets all contributing to what this film wants to achieve with this particular character. A sense of foreboding loneliness runs through this figure that would theoretically be cured with having some sense of interaction with another living and breathing individual. However, as life has demonstrated, not everything happens in such a clean manner because we are emotional creatures. We carry the trauma and weight of what has occurred and the way Del reacts to everything remains his own perspective and experience, which makes this a singular experience.
This does not come to fruition simply through the performance of Peter Dinklage, which is great, but also by the work done by director and cinematographer, Reed Morano. Serving in both of these roles, she does a phenomenal job not only with the visuals but by also giving them a purpose for how it advances the stories. This post-apocalyptic world does not come with a sense of terror as seen in many other films, it simply comes down to a sense of emptiness and loneliness. The town Del inhabits simply feels bare, which plays into what makes him so cynical when interacting with Grace (Elle Fanning). In a sense, he has reverted in his ability to socially interact with people. Morano does such a splendid job setting this up atmospherically and all of the visuals accompanying these characters get right to the core of it all. Bareness with incredible intentionality, which shows the heights this director can reach through her storytelling with not as much dialogue wrapped into telling the audience what’s going on. She makes a more difficult challenge for herself and certainly steps up in this effort to meet it.
With the introduction of Grace into the story, it adds another thread into what started as a singular experience and while spoilers will get into the more disturbing element of what this feature takes on, Fanning’s presence in the film does so much to push it forward. Fanning almost brings this innocence and fear to the story where Dinklage’s Del essentially feels like he’s dead inside and just trying to do what it takes to finish his duties and die. It allows for these two, who serves as the principal two actors of the story to develop strong chemistry and they certainly match each other in this effort. Having to follow Del alone for this entire story may have turned into a completely overwhelming sad experience, but it’s the bursts of hope brought forward by Fanning that adds a different level to the story and the counterbalance they provide for each other truly serves the story well.
This also does not take away from the impeccably strong work by Peter Dinklage, who introduces the audience to this world and must keep us engaged with his process through the minimal dialogue. Dinklage effortlessly carries his presence throughout the narrative and leads this story and the emotional undercurrent running through it. While given a challenging proposition, he steps up and knocks it out of the park in carrying the grief and pain sitting right under the surface of this character. Not until Grace does he have someone poke through to have him actually explore these feelings, but it unlocks another level of what Dinklage can do as an actor and his talent level shows it all off.
Broody but profound in the way it tackles grief, I Think We’re Alone Now takes the idea of loneliness following an apocalypse to a different level. Reed Morano utilizes her prowess as a cinematographer to add visual flair to a story that could have been fairly drab with its humorless approach. She helps elevate it with the help of her fabulous two leading actors as this trio of collaborators work wonders and operate through a challenging story but one worth navigating because of what it wants to say, especially as we reach the conclusion. Truly a valuable experience and hopefully one that receives the recognition it undoubtedly deserves.