It takes a few minutes to sense that Aniara is going to be a human story. How the camera stares at Mimaroben (Emelie Jonsson) and her visage. Her mood. It sets a brooding tone which the rest of the film will maintain.
The story proceeds in the steps of a disaster movie. In this case, Earth has been ravaged by burning weather and an extraordinary space city for survivors is ready to embark onto a journey to Mars. The method by which humans are loaded onto the craft must be the first of its kind in movies. For what it’s worth, it leads to some striking scenery of towering elevators that lead up to the sky into the ship, showing the magnitude outside and inside which is said to have 24 shopping malls, for example. But going back to the core story, the ship gets struck by space debris and severely detracts from its flight course moving out to nowhere in empty space floating endlessly. The pilots believe there is hope and plan to orbit around a planet using its gravity field to spin them back on track. But that planet is two years away. And so the movie centers on the main character Mimaroben and her life during the journey.
This eventually tells a story about love, hope, heartbreak, and darkness. It’s not necessarily in that order. Disaster movies tend to shuffle these kind of stories with multiple characters. This one is more intimate with Mimaroben’s life. Her profession as a service attendant at a virtual reality chamber that produces earth experiences for each individual based on their wishes. She also gains an attraction for a security guard played by Bianca Cruzeiro. And her encounters and with the Captain (Arvin Kananian) grow tense when he slowly begins totalitarian control over the ship. Proficiently directed by Pella Kagerman and Hugo Lilja, this is a depressing movie in many ways. There are suspenseful moments but many of them are not to do with science fiction. The movie, based on a Swedish novel by Harry Martinsson, is like a portrait of a society in despair and anxiety over how long their hopes can last. And how a little semblance of earth is a source of happiness for them.