Will Smith hit golf balls off an aircraft career. Charlton Heston hunted mutants. Will Forte made friends with a bunch of sports balls and drove across the country painting on billboards.
From "I Am Legend" and "The Omega Man" to "The Last Man on Earth", various stories have imagined the sole surviving human being. One thing they have in common is that the last person on Earth would desperately miss their fellow human beings, searching and hoping to find another survivor.
Premiering at the, this slow-burning post-apocalyptic tale features the " " star as Del, a man who takes to being the last man on Earth a little too readily. Retreating to the library where he previously worked, he settles into a monk-like existence fishing, drinking wine and reading. He ventures out only to bury the dead, working scrupulously from house to house and helping himself to batteries along the way.
Everything is perfectly solitary for Del -- until his ascetic existence is threatened when another survivor, Grace, played by Elle Fanning, literally crashes into his life.
The film is directed by Reed Morano, fresh from directing the award-winning " ". Morano is also a cinematographer, and it shows. From the opening shots of an American flag fluttering over hauntingly deserted streets, "I Think We're Alone Now" is frequently beautiful, with rich and deep light and shadow. Scenes play out in near-silhouette, and never has Dinklage's mournful face been so expressively lit.
It feels like Dinklage has come full circle to "The Station Agent", the 2003 Sundance hit about another man seeking solitude that was his big breakthrough.
The beautiful visuals are given room to breathe, with long stretches of silence. It's definitely a slow burn, but things do perk up when Fanning's character drops in out of nowhere. Fanning's sparky performance brings a much-needed change of pace as she bounces off Dinklage's slightly bewildered response to the interruption, leading to lots of economically crafted comic moments.
Come on, you know a film named after a Tiffany song isn't going to take itself too seriously.
The charming performances and exquisite visuals take priority over a fairly slight story. That bothered some of the more literal members of the audience I overheard complaining after my screening here in icy-cold Park City, Utah. Although a mystery does slowly emerge, Morano doesn't really commit to it. You'll get more from the film if you let yourself sink into the mood of the movie, which feels more like a tone poem than a genre flick.
It's not particularly accurate to compare "I Think We're Alone Now" with "", but they do share an unhurried obliqueness. Neither feels the need to over-explain the sort-of-sci-fi premise, offering intriguing snapshots of a skewed reality and only tantalising glimpses of the world beyond.
And if that doesn't tinklage your Dinklage, you can always have fun playing the spin-off game to "last man" films like this where you ponder "What would I do...?"
"I Think We're Alone Now" works as a haunting meditation on loneliness and companionship, an appealingly funny two-hander and an atmospheric entry into the post-apocalyptic genre. Expect to see it some time this year if distributors or streaming services snap it up.
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