Eagerly awaiting the concluding season of Game of Thrones later this year, I decided to catch up on two recent feature films starring Peter Dinklage, the single most honored actor from the HBO series. Nominated seven years in a row for a Best Supporting Actor Emmy, Dinklage won it three times, as well as one Golden Globe.
Clearly a TV fan fave as Tyrion Lannister, Dinklage has also accumulated an impressive list of motion picture credits. His breakthrough roles before Game of Thrones were in The Station Agent (’03) and Death at a Funeral (’07). Three years later, Dinklage reprised the role in Neil LaBute’s American remake.
Both of his latest features—Rememory (’17) and I Think We’re Alone Now (’18)—put Dinklage in the starring role instead of his usual supporting status. And both efforts have a tinge of science-fiction. The second is better, but both are worthy testaments to the appeal of Dinklage the actor, even if the material isn’t comparable to Game of Thrones.
In Rememory, he plays Sam Bloom, a designer of architectural models wracked by guilt after surviving a horrendous car crash that killed his brother. Learning about a new invention designed by Gordon Dunn (Martin Donovan) that purports to record hidden memories, Sam sees an opportunity to finally learn his brother’s dying words—they’ve been blacked out in his mind, along with other details of the fatal accident.
Upon Gordon’s unusual sudden death, Sam steals the memory machine prototype, taking it upon himself to track down the facts behind the death and possibly recover the details of his own forgotten past as well. The usual suspects include Gordon’s estranged widow (Julia Ormond), the inventor’s recent lover (Evelyne Brochu), and one of the participants (the late Anton Yelchin) in the machine’s trial experiments.
Though the concept of Rememory has lots of potential (like the machine might alter memories, too), the actual script (co-written by director Mark Palansky and Michael Vukadinovich) is riddled with improbabilities and red herrings. Dinklage is reduced to playing a soulful turn, but with that incredibly expressive face, he’s convincing.
Another major plus is British actress and erstwhile beauty Julia Ormond, who starred in four back-to-back major Hollywood films in the mid-’90s (Legends of the Fall, First Knight, Sabrina, Smilla’s Sense of Snow) and merely ebbed away into minor roles and television. With Dinklage, she provides the necessary emotional ballast to keep Rememory afloat.
An even more intriguing plot concept is at the heart of I Think We’re Alone Now. In the post-apocalyptic drama’s first act, Dinklage plays Del, lone survivor in a small New England town. Once a librarian, Del now lives in the library, spending his days disposing of dead bodies, meticulously cleaning the houses where they were found, and cataloging their photos alongside his books.
In the film’s second act, we meet Grace (Elle Fanning), a young carefree spirit who enters Del’s town—and his life—as an invasive form of disquiet. By himself, Del tells her at one point, he was less alone than as an outsider (presumably due to his size) among the town’s living citizens. Grace manages to make herself useful, becoming his helpmate in “cleaning” the town and recovering some more substantial meaning to his life.
Then comes the third act—metaphorically out of left field, but actually from across the country. To say the new development is unexpected is an understatement. Yet, because Paul Giamatti and Anglo-French actress Charlotte Gainsbourg are in it, the unlikely scenario is as rewarding as it is perplexing.
Apart from its terrific cast, especially Fanning who continues to delight with her choice of unusual roles, I Think We’re Alone Now relies on Reed Morano’s stunning cinematography for its primary narrative. No surprise—Morano’s the director. Thus dialogue and script are secondary to visuals.
Except for Peter Dinklage, Rememory might be dismissible. But I Think We’re Alone Now is provocative and interesting enough on its own, despite the unsolved mysteries.