Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Movie with Abe: The World to Come

The World to Come
Directed by Mona Fastvold
Released February 12, 2021 (Theaters)

People need different things in order to burrow out from devastation. Moving on after a tragic event can seem impossible, and doing so, at whatever point it may be pursuable, requires an acceptance that things have changed in some way and will not be the same going forward. The introduction of a new element or idea can be an important spark in resetting, though at some point that embodiment of life may either cease to be invigorating or disappear entirely, threatening that established stability once again. The layered title of “The World to Come,” a forbidden romance tale steeped in melancholy, suggests that looking forward to a better time is among the best ways to cope with heartbreak.

Abigail (Katherine Waterston) is reeling from the loss of her child, which has also caused her husband Dyer (Casey Affleck) to retreat within himself. The arrival one day of a new neighbor, Tallie (Vanessa Kirby), inspires a renewed sense of positivity and appreciation of her life. The two women become very close as they spend each day together, with Tallie’s energy and spirit serving to recharge and enthrall Abigail. Tallie’s husband Finney (Christopher Abbott) is considerably colder, and, unlike Dyer, who cannot figure out how to help his wife, he has no interest whatsoever in doing anything to affirm her happiness.

This film is narrated by Abigail as she dates journal entries that introduce the events of the film. Her summaries involve minimal enthusiasm, reflective of a change in mood only in description and not necessarily tone. She is deeply unhappy, grieving and lonely, and Tallie’s buoyancy and eagerness to find her own reasons to enjoy life are infectious. These two women might have been perfect for each other if they didn’t live in the 1850s, and the framing of this story all but ensures an unhappy ending since brief moments of joy are all that can lift Abigail up as she knows reality must eventually set in.

Director Mona Fastvold’s first film, “The Sleepwalker,” also made use of a four-person cast that also included Abbott. Her second feature employs four remarkably talented performers who all had other major projects in 2020, bringing them together for an only occasionally engaging ensemble effort. Both Waterston and Affleck have been much more interesting in other roles, and Abbott dependably plays despicable without much added dimension. Kirby, however, delivers a completely different turn from the resigned portrayal of another grieving mother in “Pieces of a Woman” that seems set to garner her an Oscar nomination, providing the best reason to see this film. Its style and pacing are slow and less than invigorating, presenting a narrative whose contents might be compelling but don’t prove to be all that worthwhile in this lackluster and depressing whole.


No comments: