‘Aniara’ Review: A One-Way Ticket Into the Abyss

In the harrowing Swedish science-fiction epic “Aniara,” a spacecraft designed to make the voyage from a ruined Earth to a colony on Mars hits both debris and disaster.

The turbulence from the impact soon passes, allowing the ship, the Aniara, to stabilize. The film’s plucky protagonist, MR (Emelie Jonsson), returns to her job with the crew — placating anxious passengers with images of Earth before fires turned the blue marble brown.

But once it becomes evident that the ship ejected its fuel when it hit the debris, it is impossible to dream away brutal reality: Without fuel, the Aniara and its passengers are doomed to drift in the infinite emptiness of space.

Doom can seem romantic on the page, where the reader has room to roam. But witnessing it here is depressing. Kagerman and Lilja thoughtfully constructed their film, yet they leave nothing for the mind to do besides consume unrelenting tragedy. Society crumbles, filth accumulates in hallways, beloved characters succumb to despair. The viewer is as trapped as the would-be colonists.

At times, the commitment to bleakness feels artistically admirable. The film unblinkingly faces the void, and it refuses to console the audience, which has come along for the ride. But mostly, this is a movie that simulates the experience of losing the will to live, a daunting premise even for the bravest voyagers.

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