The World to Come (2020)

The World to Come
Director: Mona Fastvold
Writer: Ron Hansen, Jim Shepard
Based on: Jim Shepard‘s short story
Cast: Katherine Waterston, Vanessa Kirby, Christopher Abbott, Casey Affleck
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 31.10.2020

Content Note: (critical treatment of) homomisia, domestic violence

Abigail (Katherine Waterston) and her husband Dyer (Casey Affleck) live a rather simple life filled with hard work on their farm. When they get new neighbors in Tallie (Vanessa Kirby) and Finney (Christopher Abbott), it means an end to their isolation. Or at least for Abigail and Tallie who quickly feel very drawn to each other. But that isn’t something that any one of them is prepared for.

How can you ruin Katherine Waterston and Vanessa Kirby falling love? Ask The World to Come. It seemed promising but was, unfortunately, pretty much a disappointment.

Abigail (Katherine Waterston) talking to Tallie (Vanessa Kirby).

I don’t know what happened with the sound mixer on this movie, but someone must have seriously pissed him off. It’s either this or incompetence to explain how this film could have most of its dialogues be much too soft (and also mumbled), while everything else was so incredibly loud that I had to cover my ears a lot – and I’m usually not really sensitive when it comes to that. It just gave the film a much harder time than it would necessarily have had.

Not that the film was great apart from the sound. The dialogues I did hear were way too flowery for my taste, basically purple prose mistaken itself for being poetic. That there’s a constant voice over was equal parts annyoing and unnecessary and narratively questionable. Supposedly it’s Abigail’s diary entries, but would Abigail really write all of that down? And wouldn’t her husband read all of it?

Abigail (Katherine Waterston) and Tallie (Vanessa Kirby) cuddling in the forest.

The purple prose and faux-deep mumbling culminates in a super-dramatic ending that, walking out of the film I was sure comes from a dyacishet person (I googled Shepard and there is nothing pointing to him being queer). It seems tailored to the straights who want to gasp about how hard queer people have it. As a queer person myself, this is pretty insulting.

At least Kirby and Waterston have good chemistry with each other and the men don’t get in the way of the film too much. But if you, like me, had been debating whether watching a queer movie outweighs watching abusive ass Casey Affleck, let me tell you: this film certainly doesn’t make it worth it.

Abigail (Katherine Waterston) talking to her husband Dyer (Casey Affleck).

Summarizing: Disappointing.

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