This World Alone: Review. SPOILERS AHEAD…
This drama/thriller film follows a young woman named Sam (Belle Adams). Sam was one of the last humans born before “The Fall,” an unknown event that led to the destruction of society as we know it and the loss of life of many people. From the film’s outset, it is clear enough time has passed that things like microwaves, ambulances, and hospitals are foreign to Sam. She lives in a remote house with her mother Connie (Carrie Walrond Hood) and Willow (Sophie Edwards), a young woman who at some point before the start of the film came to live with Connie and Sam. The trio spend their days preparing food and reading classic works of literature.
Sam hopes to go out into the world and experience life outside of their home and the stories she has read. However, the struggles of “The Fall” have made Connie fearful and distrusting. As a result, she is convinced that Sam needs to be toughened up and prepared to face the harsh realities of the larger world and resorts to sparring with Sam to harden her. For her part, Willow maintains that Sam should be allowed to hold onto her optimism and innocence. After Willow is accidentally injured during a sparring session between Sam and Connie, Sam takes it upon herself to go and trade for medicine in the nearest town, New Macedonia. While on her way, Sam meets Dart (Lau’rie Roach). Dart is a resident from New Macedonia who agrees to help her on her journey. The remainder of the film follows the pair as they ponder why the world has ended up the way it has, and what kind of life and world they want for themselves.
Director Jordan Noel and writer Hudson Phillips craft an intriguing entry in the post-apocalyptic genre with this film. While there have been countless movies and shows that center on the gradual loss of humanity as society slips into chaos, or stories about restored faith in humanity in the midst of an apocalyptic landscape, This World Alone takes a slightly different approach. In this film, the realities of this world have been in a large sense accepted. There is no quest to “make things the way they were.” Sam does not remember what life was once like so her story is not about the loss of a life she once knew. Instead, Phillips, Noel, and the cast and crew give audiences an unconventional coming-of-age story where Connie believes that tough love and harsh training are needed to prepare Sam for threats she will face. On the other hand, Willow believes in a preservation of a sense of normalcy for Sam, and Sam herself represents every young person’s eventual desire to go out and find their own place in the world. The catch in this film is, this world contains presumably more overt dangers than “traditional” society. In addition to this coming-of-age aspect, we get meditations on why this apocalyptic event happened and the ideal way to rebuild society. There are scenes where characters wonder if it is a result of God’s wrath and discuss humanity’s inclination to divine intervention. At the same time, there are scenes that suggest religious zeal is what led to so much conflict in society and empathy for one’s fellow man is the perspective that is needed.
While the film offers up a variety of themes that are thought-provoking, the film at times feels as though it struggles to give each thematic idea the proper time for thorough examination. For instance, one of the film’s thematic ideas is explored via a surprisingly violent turn of events that while not unmotivated or unearned, feels slightly rushed.
When it comes to the performances, each actor gives their respective character a sense of history and dimension that explains their point of view. Adams is particularly engaging as Sam, a young woman who goes through a believable arc of having her idealism and values challenged in the face of adversity. Roach is also great as Dart, a character with many layers of complexity, some revealed, some not. Roach plays a character who is torn and tortured by his desire to hold onto his past, yet also leave it behind him.
The cinematography by Trisha Solyn is another strong point of the film. A large portion of the film takes place in exterior settings surrounded by trees, fields and water. Solyn perfectly frames shots that accompany performances but also highlight the beauty of the natural settings.
This World Alone offers some new perspectives in the post-apocalyptic genre. While some ideas are given more time to develop than others, the ideas introduced are thought-provoking and bolstered by great performances and memorable cinematography. Fans of character-driven genre films should check this out.
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