Reed Morano’s end-of-the-world drama “I Think We’re Alone Now” is one of those independent movies that starts so well, with an enticing set-up and beautiful execution, that you know in your heart of hearts that the good times won’t last to the end. And, alas, you’d be right.
As with most apocalypses in the movies, the details of why everybody’s dead are unmentioned and unimportant. All we are told, and all we need to know, is that everybody in this small town is dead — except for Del (Peter Dinklage), who lived on his own before the apocalypse anyway.
Del lives in the town library, surrounded by books and rationing his computer battery use. He has methodically gone through every house in town, removing the dead, burying them in a field, cleaning the houses and salvaging canned food and other items. He also has amassed a sizable collection of family snapshots.
One day, while heading to another house, Del sees something on the street that shouldn’t be there: An unfamiliar car, recently crashed into a tree. In the driver’s seat is a young woman, still alive. This is Grace (Elle Fanning), and her presence disrupts Del’s carefully constructed solitude.
For a while, Mike Makowsky’s script bubbles along with the day-to-day mechanics of Grace adjusting to, and sometimes altering, Del’s meticulous routine. As captured by director and cinematographer Reed Morano — who won an Emmy last year for directing “The Handmaid’s Tale,” and has shot such indies as “Frozen River” and “The Skeleton Twins” — those moments are constantly gorgeous and evocative. And Dinklage reminds us that he is one of our most soulful actors, wearing Del’s pain like armor.
It’s too good to last. The finale devolves into a garden-variety conspiracy plot, and introduces two characters (played by Paul Giammati and Charlotte Gainsbourg) and a level of menace the movie could have done without. “I Think We’re Alone Now” is still three-quarters of a good movie, and worth the view if one adjusts one’s expectations down a few notches.
‘I Think We’re Alone Now’
Opened Sept. 14 in select cities; opens Friday, Sept. 21, at the Broadway Centre Cinemas (Salt Lake City). Rated R for language. Running time: 93 minutes.