The Unthinkable

Year: 2018
Production Co: Crazy Pictures
Director: Victor Danell
Writer: Victor Danell/Christoffer Nordenrot
Cast: Christoffer Nordenrot, Jesper Barkselius, Lisa Henni

Like the recent Little Fish , this is another movie about an apocalyptic event that wants to plays its cards like a soft focus Sundance drama, and while it mostly succeeds, director Victor Danell, who co-writes with Christoffer Nordenrot, is far less interested in obvious cause and effect than he is an emotionally resonant mood. It adds up to a fairly affecting experience, even if you're still grasping at straws slightly about exactly what's happened when it's all over.

In the mid 2000s, mild mannered teenager Alex lives in rural Sweden with his mother and overbearing father Bjorn (Jesper Barkselius), who's so angry it borders on abuse. His mother can't stand it anymore and hightails it from Alex's family, leaving him with his terminally hateful Dad. Worse still, the local girl he has a crush on, Anna, is leaving for Stockholm, leaving him with nothing to live for in his mall hometown. Alex walks out one day, makes his way all the way to the city, crashes at the house of a distant relative who has a grand old piano and gets on with his life.

Years later, the adult Alex (now played by co-writer Nordenrot) is now a famous concert pianist but seems no happier for it than he was as a sullen teenager. Even as the unthinkable event of the title happens and explosions rip through downtown Stockholm, the city apparently under attack by terrorists, Alex seems curiously nonplussed. In short order he fires his manager and sets about returning to the village home of his youth to try and buy the old church piano he and Anna used to play together on, some kind of talisman for the love he lost.

But things go from bad to worse. As Alex embarks on his quest, we cut to Bjorn, now an embittered engineer at what looks like a power facility, raging with paranoia about everything that can go wrong and being laughed at until an armed man tries to make his way inside.

As Alex arrives back home, people start driving erratically, ramming other cars, trees and people with reckless abandon, as if some sort of nerve gas has made everyone into a murderer – one of the many effects of the unthinkable event that isn't explained.

Alex reconnects with the now-grown Anna as the power and mobile networks go down and everybody ends up on the run, trying to reach the sanctity of Bjorn's facility because it's huge and underground, giving them plenty of places to hole up until a rescue comes.

Soldiers descend in attack choppers and the gathered townsfolk have to fight them off but the whole time, the filmmakers care a little bit more about everybody's anguished states of mind and the aesthetic mood on screen. It's definitely a new twist on the alien/enemy invasion action adventure flick and the at-time lush cinematography perfectly matches the ethereal mood Danell has gone for, but it feels like a few different genres mashed rather unceremoniously together, never quite forming a cohesive whole or having a very coherent narrative.

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