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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Jul 5, 2021



WE’VE JUST SEEN three films in succession and all of them are period lesbian love stories. First is “The World to Come” with one of the most fiery young actresses we have today, Vanessa Kirby, set in the American frontier of Upstate New York in 1856. 

Then “Ammonite” with Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan set in England in the 1840s. And “Portrait of a Lady on Fire”, a French film set in the end of the 18th century in the island of Brittany.

We’d first review “The World to Come”, directed by Mona Fastvold, a Norwegian filmmaker based in New York who previously directed the indie film “The Sleepwalker”. 

“The World to Come” won the Queer Lion Award in the Venice Filmfest last year for being the best LGBT themed entry at the festival. 

It’s narrated by Abigail (Katherine Waterston), who writes a journal and it’s her entries that we hear in the voice over. 

She’s a soft spoken woman married to Dyer (Casey Affleck), and they’re grieving from the recent death of their only child to diptheria. 

They live a hard and isolated life as farmers in a remote mountainous area during the era of pioneers. 

A new couple, Tallie (Vanessa Kirby) and Finney (Christopher Abbott), moves in the same area. Tallie is very friendly to the shy Abigail who is immediately attracted to the red-haired Tallie. 

You quickly feel that something else would soon blossom between them. Their relationship deepens. And they kiss. Tentative at first, very passionate later. 

Both their husbands start getting jealous as they spend so much time with each other and it’s easy to guess that their romance will not have a happily ever after. 

The film is a very slow burn that today’s viewers with slow attention spans would find cumbersome. 

It’s also told in a literary manner as both Abigail and Tallie aspire to be poets. 

Both of them live unhappy marital lives and they eventually find a connection in each other to fill the void in their respective miserable lives.

Between the two, Abigail is the one who’s more repressed while Tallie is the more aggressive free spirit. 

She longs to get out of her relationship with her strict and controlling husband who is not pleased that she has not yet conceived their own child. 

The film is actually the forbidden love story of two married women whose passions are ignited when their boring husbands are away from them. 

This is unheard off in 19th century America when such things are really taboo and women are supposed to be just doing the household chores without any question and expected to be submissive all the time. 

This is stressed by Finney when he cited the Bible passage from Ephesians telling women to subordinate themselves to their husbands. 

Women seem helpless to the conventions of the time, just like all humans who are at the mercy of Mother Nature, specially in the mountains where everyone is exposed to the very harsh elements.

Nature can be very beautiful, but also imposing and ominous, as seen in that wintry sequence where Tallie gets caught in a fierce snowstorm that nearly kills her. 

Told in a brooding and melancholy manner, it wants to be defined by its austere and moody atmosphere. Even the performances of the actors have a tinge of sadness, most of them underplaying all the time. 

Waterston is effective as the apparently intelligent Abigail, delivering whispery internal monologues with a poetic bent. 

She cannot be blamed for being distant to her reticent husband. So when she meets the contagiously glowing Tallie, she can’t help but comment inwardly: “Astonishment and joy!” 

But Vanessa’s Tallie is more overpowering, crackling with so much warmth. 

Vanessa projects her as a captivating woman whose inner turmoil urges her to rebel from her overbearing and controlling husband. 

She's on the verge of breaking down, craving for the attention and understanding of a kindred soul. 

Then she meets Abigail. 

The men here inarguably know they’re just support to the more well rounded female characters and really give them time to shine. 

The film is titled “The World to Come” but actually, the world of Abigail and Tallie is already HERE. 

The final scene is some sort of a fantastic reunion between them, where they talk about what they will do and it reeks with irony as you know that their "world to come" has already come... and gone.