Mona Fastvold’s “The World to Come” is now available On Demand featuring top-tier lead performances from Vanessa Kirby and Katherine Waterston. Set in the mid-19th century, two neighboring wives living isolated lives on the American East Coast grow a connection to one another that will change both their lives forever. Kirby and Waterston are proven talents, but do their skills blend in this one enough to create a memorable tale of unsuspected love?
Where “The World to Come” Thrives
Love stories of all types have been done in Hollywood for generations. Same sex love stories have been making a surge in recent years bringing much needed representation to the industry. However, this story relies on much more than that to sell its message of love. Here we have Waterston’s, Abigail and Kirby’s, Tallie. Two wives living out on the rugged countryside. They are very much different, yet they both have an emptiness in their lives. A void that each finds instantly filled when they are with one another. There is a captivation between them when they meet for the first time and you truly can feel that because of the layered writing and the skilled delivery from Kirby and Waterston.
Through Fastvold’s direction you can immediately sense the connection between them. She frames the characters nicely and hangs on the shot with the right amount of timing to convey the energy between them. Which is much more than sexual. There was a fascination, and a feeling of excitement felt between Tallie and Abigail that ignites the screen in each of their scenes. It connected me to each of them, making me want to see where their relationship would go, and how it would affect their home lives. So, there is a natural intrigue built from the story that is elevated by the performances from Waterston and Kirby that easily keep the pacing moving.
Both Kirby and Waterston were impressive. Both were able to pour themselves emotionally into their roles and it translates to a much more genuine level of chemistry between them. Their timing, and the energy in their performances portrayed the passion and the wonderment felt between them and it was able to provide this film with all the emotional intensity needed to keep me invested in where it would go.
Affleck and Abbott were more than suitable as the husbands. Abbott delivers an arrogance that resulted in a few moments of effective tension. Affleck embodies the vibe of a working man who didn’t necessarily make his wife unhappy, but certainly was more focused on the frontier and bringing money in for the family. And for myself that was where the structure of the story thrived. In how this relationship evolved over the run-time and the ramifications of its crossing with Abigail and Tallie’s marriages. Giving this one plenty of authentic drama, with little to no melodrama.
Where “The World to Come” Falters
This movie didn’t necessarily have any major flaws. But it also felt so subtle in its portrayal of love that it could potentially be forgotten. It was an endearing tale, but outside of the finale, there weren’t really any of those standout moments that would assist in this movie being able resonate with you. The scenes between Waterston and Kirby were compelling, and easily able to connect to the heartstrings. But I can see how some may feel that many of their conversations were mildly repetitive. Admittedly the progression of their relationship was not given the smoothest flow. From the cutting of scenes, it’s not easy to establish how much time has passed in places and it does slightly hinder being able to really feel where these two are at in their relationship.
Final Verdict on “The World to Come”
This was a well-crafted film. The backdrops give the story depth and plenty of atmosphere. There is a capability to the direction, and it doesn’t force the art-house tropes like “Ammonite” did last year. For being similar films, with high quality actors, I would say this is the superior one. Waterston and Kirby are impressive, and the intimacy they share together will have you feeling the passionate connection between them. This is a story that relies much more on the mental connection, with the sexual spark between them being often teased. Which allows the bond between them to have substance and heart, to perfectly set-up the impact of the third-act. So, if you are a fan of romance movies, or time-period dramas, “The World to Come” is certainly worth checking out.