A dishevelled American flag lightly sways in the breeze over a post-apocalyptic village scene, situated along the Hudson River. The repetitive and haunting music gives a deep and disturbing sense that something unnerving has recently devastated these quiet abandoned streets.
We don’t come to understand much about the disease that’s wiped out all of civilization and swept through the nation one Tuesday afternoon like the angel of death, claiming the human race and leaving only one, a librarian named Dell. (Peter Dinklage)
A self-assured fellow and now single guardian of the planet, Dell takes on the responsibility to go from home to home wrapping up the dead in their bed sheets and lugging them down to a local field to be buried one by one. There doesn’t seem to be anything ceremonial about the way that he tackles this task, almost as though these old neighbours’ deaths meant nothing to him, just as perhaps they’d made him feel like nothing in life.
Working tirelessly to get rid of the stench of decay left illuminating in the air he cleans each house and in doing so gains back a sense of order amongst the chaos. Each house he enters he collects a single photo from a frame, searches for unreturned library books and resourcefully claims batteries from clocks, toy cars and toothbrushes to be resourceful. “The single most important thing the dead have to offer”
Although the day job of shifting the dead is a morbid affair, in his spare time he seems content being alone in tranquility that we get the sense he was actually already acclimatized to this lifestyle ahead of the catastrophic event. He rows his boat out into the beautiful and undisturbed lake to fish and spends his evenings sitting in the silence of his familiar local library to read in the stillness.
Laying his head down to sleep contently on a dark and silent evening, he’s suddenly startled by a loud explosion in the distance. Jumping out of bed and cautiously making his way to his window, to his estonishment he watches the sky light up with the crackling of fireworks.
Clearly not as alone as he first thought, his world soon collides with a young, curious and free spirited girl called Grace (Elle Fanning) and unlike her name she disrupts his quiet flow by attaching herself to him and his unusual world. At first it’s clear that Dell doesn’t feel comfortable and makes it clear that he intends her to move on.
Director Reed Morano captures beautifully the transformation of the most unlikely companionship. From the subtle trust that blossoms to the emotional freedom that they encourage out of each other is beyond charming to watch.
Dell let’s her into his regimented routine yet continues to work and wear his headphones on full blast listening to RUSH, “Finding my way” in attempt to drown her out, but eventually falls for her presence.
She discovers the collection of photographs tucked away in his draw, revealing that he’s more sentimental than he’s letting on. As she leans into his traditions he also begins to respect and care for hers. (Like holding their breath for 10 seconds at the grave of each person they bury, just because it was her quirky way to honour the deceased)
But, as we learn more about who he really is deep down, there’s an underlying storyline that picks up making us aware that perhaps we don’t know all that we should about her. There are certain scars that she’s not willing to reveal, making viewers wonder, what is she hiding?
Sometimes I felt so carried away with the connection these two characters had that it would distract me from the fact the scene was littered with rotting corpses in the background. It’s a dark, mellow yet likeable film even though it flies off into a psychedelic tangent towards the end. The cinematography is stunning in parts, especially when filmed out in nature or under the setting sun, giving it a real glow and a comforting sensation amongst the end-of-the-world eerie vibes. I’d suggest it’s a must see this winter.
I Think We're Alone Nowis out today.
Words bt Lisa Coleman @Lisa_D_Coleman.