Studio: Crazy Pictures
Director: Crazy Pictures
Writer: Crazy Pictures, Christoffer Nordenrot
Producer: Crazy Pictures
Stars: Christoffer Nordenrot, Jesper Barkselius, Lisa Henni, Pia Halvorsen
Fractured relationships fight to reconnect when Sweden falls under assault from unknown attackers.
Knowing little about it other than what was listed on IMDb and in the Screamfest screening guide, a pair of prejudicial concerns tempered my enthusiasm going into “The Unthinkable.” First, IMDb listed the runtime at two hours and nine minutes. As age goes up, patience goes down. Nowadays, the prospect of locking into a theater seat for any period over 100 minutes makes me anxious.
Additionally, “The Unthinkable’s” creation is credited simply to ‘Crazy Pictures.’ According to their bio, Crazy Pictures is a Swedish film collective formed by five friends who jointly handle directing, producing, and all other major duties on their projects. Frankly, the idea of an unproven outfit with a flip name like ‘Crazy Pictures’ making their first feature, a portion of which was crowdfunded, didn’t instill me with confidence that I was in for a professionally polished motion picture.
Let me tell you, my presumptions couldn’t have been more wrong. By the end of its duration, I wished there was another hour so I could stay under “The Unthinkable’s” spell even longer.
More importantly, Crazy Pictures unequivocally raises the bar sky high for what an independent project can be capable of accomplishing. These are not careless kids playing make-believe in front of a camera. If you’re an indie filmmaker and “The Unthinkable” doesn’t ignite an inspirational inferno to exponentially elevate your own efforts, get out of the game.
Clearly, enough cash existed that “low budget” isn’t an accurate descriptor. But whatever the modest amount of money they worked with was, Crazy Pictures makes their movie look like $100 million dollars. Seriously, “The Unthinkable” left me absolutely awestruck with every gut-wrenching emotion and incredible image vividly painted onscreen.
Several interconnected relationships form the interpersonal drama at the story’s center, though Alex and Anna are the anchors. Most of the movie takes place in 2017, but it begins in 2005. In one of the film’s few immersion breakers that become jagged pills to swallow, Christoffer Nordenrot and Lisa Henni are too mature to believably embody their 16-year-old selves. Weight loss and wigs can only do so much. At least the buildup of their background doesn’t remain in the past overlong.
Alex and Anna foster fated love only to lose it due to cowardly choices. Fractured parental bonds pour more pain onto their persons. Growing apart puts adult incarnations of Alex and Anna at separate stations in life, both of which exhibit outward success internally scarred by their origins.
“The Unthinkable” juggles plentiful melodrama, yet always grounds these arcs in relatable empathy. Part of the process for fitting realism into fiction involves a lens that allows organic moments to naturally come to the camera.
Dialogue exchanges are frequently framed in three-quarter views from behind the back or a shoulder. Because of such unobtrusive behavior, scenes don’t seem staged for the benefit of the camera. When the camera positions itself outside a doorway while Alex talks on the phone, the effect is of eavesdropping on an activity taking place whether the audience knows about it or not. “The Unthinkable’s” world feels like it exists outside the confines of the film, and the camera just happens to capture enough pieces to tell an emotionally affecting story.
Characterizations come constructed with equally careful consideration. Alex’s father Bjorn plays a big part in the past as well as the present. Bjorn is prone to fits of anger, yet he takes his temper out on objects, establishing violent tendencies without making him a physically abusive ass. This terrific technique portrays a flawed person without forcing viewers to despise him. Bjorn actually ends up stoking more heroic sympathy than Alex, whose incessant sulking swabs him with unattractive selfishness.
“The Unthinkable” soaks itself in so much ordinary drama that when extraordinary events eventually occur, there’s no notion to second-guess any implausibility. No matter the circumstance, characters regard each situation seriously. Whether a setup calls for conversation or for chaos, the filmmakers address each scene with sincerity. As a result, the audience accepts “The Unthinkable” at face value due to its unpretentious presentation.
Astounding explosions, crashes, and firefights hit Michael Bay levels of cinematic style and breathtaking intensity. I can’t remember the last time I gasped out loud at a movie, yet “The Unthinkable” amazed me multiple times with the sheer scope of its ambition. Straight drama morphs into a tense paranoia thriller, but packs powder kegs of pulse-pounding action too.
If there is any one criticism of “The Unthinkable” that can be difficult to defend, it’s that the movie goes deep with sentimentality. I heard one person audibly guffaw at a particular heartstring rip during the fiery finale. However, I don’t think he laughed because the scene didn’t land or seemed silly. It sounded more like an involuntary reaction to realizing the filmmakers had the surprising guts to take things as far as they do, and actually earn enough suspension of disbelief to make the moment work. What I’m referring to is no more absurd than what ‘Rosebud’ means to Charles Foster Kane.
“The Unthinkable” simply dares to be that bold of a movie. What truly makes it resonate is the underlying theme of reconciling with regret. Alex, Anna, and Bjorn reflect our shortcomings and remind us of similar mistakes we’ve made. Seeing ourselves hurting and healing against a backdrop of unimaginable danger shatters the heart while shaking the senses with stunning sights and sounds. I honestly don’t know how Crazy Pictures pulled off a production this impressive.
NOTE: The film’s Swedish title is “Den blomstertid nu kommer.”
Review Score: 90