The World to Come Review - Compelling, Emotional, Engaging

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The World to Come, from Bleeker Street Films, brings to the screen a compelling story of grief, love, and hope and the need for connection in this powerful 19th century romance set in the American Northeast.

The film begins with voice over by Abigail, played by Katherine Waterston, as the camera pans a dreary, grey dawn, announcing the beginning of a new year. Living with her husband, Dyer, played by Casey Affleck, she toils about clear as to what her wifely duties entail.

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Loneliness holds her, as we see briefly in flashback her child, which made them complete as a family, dying in her arms. Her grief over words unspoken to her young child constantly stab at her reminding her of what she feels is a failure to freely to express her emotion.

Sunday, we see is the day of rest. Abigail is no longer interested in the pious comforts of a God who allows the deepest wounds and fails to provide suave for the sorrow. On this Sunday, she looks at those heading to church and sees, sitting in the front, a beautiful woman.

In her shy manner, she inquires to her husband of he knew her. He explains her name is Tallie, played by Vanessa Kirby, and her husband Finney, played by Christopher Abbott, and they have recently rented the farm at the end of the road.

The pair lock eyes from a distance and the gaze seems to provide a moment's freshness on an otherwise stale, monotonous and repetitious life.

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Tallie, the new neighbor takes it upon herself to befriend Abigail. A single introductory meeting, with much of the dialogue played out in both voice over and live action, we begin to understand the limitations of life in the American wilderness for women, especially those with minds and dreams of a bigger life.

Instantly the two becomes friends and confidents, the closeness is coupled by similarities, age, beauty, lives, desires. There is little commonality in this upstate New York and the two are cataclysmically drawn together.

For a season, their romance brings them both excitement, contentment, and fulfillment, more than the monotony of the life that awaits them outside of their time together. They created a small world, unavailable to anyone else, and even in the recesses of their minds they understood this world the envisioned was never an option.

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Finney, Tallie's husband is desperate to rekindle his marriage and Tallie is desperate for escape. Looking for the place he could become the person he envisioned adds to the disappointment which spirals into critical contempt. His actions become abusive.

As quickly as death took Abigail's daughter plunging her into emotional darkness, Tallie and Finney leave. Their house is empty. A bloody cloth is found. Fearing he acted on his talk, Abigail and Dyer try to find anyone in the town who witnessed them leaving.

The World to Come builds into a compelling story of love, and grief, hope, and heartache. Outstanding performances balancing both intense and sedate emotions. The story maintains the reticent theme with only limited nudity, and it isn't until the end, in flashback, that the audience understands the depth of the relationship.

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For days after The World to Come ends, the story continues to resonate. It isn't the lesbian affair that holds on, more the manifestation of grief, and how it clings to the story. Grief appears to be sedated during the relationship, and rears a mocking voice after it ends, as if to say, "you thought you could escape."

Emotional, affecting and engaging, The World to Come opens in select theaters February 12, 2021 and to streaming platforms following. See it.


Country: USA

Language: English

Runtime: 98 minutes.

Director: Mona Fastvold.

Screenplay: Jim Shepard, Ron Hansen.

Producer: Casey Affleck, Whitaker Lader, Pamela Koffler, David Hinojosa and Margarethe Baillou. 

Cast: Katherine Waterston, Vanessa Kirby, Christopher Abbott, Casey Affleck.

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