Sundance 2018 Review: I Think We’re Alone Now

I Think We’re Alone Now is a beautiful film. It hits all the apocalypse tropes, but it’s more concerned about the people who are left than why everyone else is gone. Director Reed Morano and writer Matt Makowsky’s character study of two lonely people isn’t necessarily original, but the performances of Peter Dinklage and Elle Fanning add a layer of authenticity. The film doesn’t tread new territory in the post-apocalypse genre, but it hardly matters in the face of a moving story of loneliness and companionship, something we can relate to.

Del (Dinklage) is a New York librarian seemingly content in his new world. He was alone surrounded by the 1600 inhabitants of his town, and he’s alone now as the sole occupant. Instead of shelving of books (although he still does, as a sort of macabre tribute to his life before, or maybe like nothing has changed at all), Del cleans up the town, clearing houses of necessary items such as batteries and burying the bodies he finds in a nearby field. It’s his routine, and he’s fine with it. Until it’s interrupted by Grace (Fanning) shooting off fireworks into the night, the fireworks building a bridge to a knock on the door. But the scene isn’t played as something to be wary of, although Del doesn’t seem too excited about the possibility of someone else being alive. Instead, it’s the first sign of something hopeful in this desolate world, even if Del isn’t willing to see it as such.

Once Fanning appears, the film gets a bit more lighthearted. Fanning and Dinklage have great chemistry, as Grace’s liveliness foils Del’s lone-wolf attitude. The characters are layered enough that the two-person show never grows tedious as Grace and Del learn more about each other. On the surface level they both seem okay with being the last people alive. Grace speeds down streets, consumes alcohol, and rocks out to Del’s stash of classic rock. Del no longer has to deal with people mocking him. But underneath all that, these are two very lonely people, whether by just circumstance or an inherent disposition to be by oneself, Del and Grace are proof that even the most lonely of us, the introverts and the quiet ones, as well as the extroverts, need companionship. It’s an old tale, but it’s nice to be reminded sometimes that seeking companionship is beautifully human.

Sci-fi plays a small part in what is usually a sci-fi heavy genre. Whereas usually sci-fi would be the cause of the world collapsing, here it tries to be the answer. Not enough of the time is spent on the concept, only enough to leave with you with more questions than answers. Is it better to forget the past and let go of everything that once was, or to continue on with your new reality, knowing nothing much is going to come from it. I Think We’re Alone Now appears to give a specific answer, but one that doesn’t feel  necessary. No matter how you feel about ambiguous endings, this is a film that could have benefited more from one. However, if apocalypse stories are your thing, don’t miss out on I Think We’re Alone Now.


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