In the majority of post-apocalyptic stories, when there’s seemingly a lone survivor in the world, one of the major struggles the character tends to face is intense loneliness. I Think We’re Alone Now differs from most in the genre in that its lead is content in their solitude. When it turns out more of humanity’s survived than they thought, it’s actually an inconvenience.
After the rest of humanity, as far as he knows, drops dead from some unknown cause, Del (Peter Dinklage) is alone in the world, but he maintains purpose and routine in his small, now empty town. Each day, he methodically goes from house to house, tidying up the place and scavenging useful items like batteries in a world with no longer active power grids.
He also buries any of the dead he finds, spray-painting a white ‘X’ outside each building to mark the spot of a residence fully emptied. A night shift library employee before the apocalypse, he keeps up shelving books at his workplace, collecting overdue books from houses when he finds them, and reads, dines and watches movies where possible – one of the film’s cuter world-building details is that he watches DVDs on laptops he finds until each runs out of charge, seeing as he can’t plug them in for a power boost.
Del’s solitude is disrupted about ten minutes into the film’s runtime by the discovery of Grace (Elle Fanning), a young woman unconscious in a crashed car, though thankfully the accident is a minor one. He provides her a place to rest but then also a car so she can quickly continue on to wherever she was headed. The trouble for Del is that Grace, a much chirper presence than he, despite her own sense of sorrow and obscure motives, wants to stick around.
Pulling double duty as director and cinematographer, Reed Morano’s capturing of the melancholic beauty in a quiet earth proves this drama’s greatest strength, alongside Dinklage’s finest film work in ages. It’s better as a character piece than when an ‘actual plot’ eventually has to kick in.