DMovies - Your platform for thought-provoking cinema

The World to Come

Director - Mona Fastvold - 2020

"Filthy genius movie"
Period Lesbian drama set in the US and filmed in Transylvania is exuberant in its photography, supported by a simple yet powerful script - live from Venice


This is a transatlantic endeavour in many ways. Directed by Norwegian actress-writer-filmmaker Mona Fastvold (this is only her second feature), filmed in Romania, starred by two British actress and premiered at the Venice Biennale, the film movie is in reality entirely set on the other side of the Ocean, in the US. It is based on a short story by American novelist Jim Shepard, who also co-wrote the script with another American novelist, Ron Hansen.

Abigail (Katherine Waterston) lives with her quiet and dispassionate husband Dyer (Casey Affleck) in rural Onondaga (in the state of New York) in the year of 1856. They lost their five-year-old child Nelly to diphtheria a year earlier, and have since struggled to reconnect. Abigail constantly refuses Dyer’s sexual advances and wishes for a new child. She now finds pleasure in writing and educating herself (she wishes to purchase an atlas of the US).

Tall and blonde Tally (Vanessa Kirby) moves in next door with her cruel and demeaning husband Finney (Christopher Abbott). The two women soon bond and a full-on romantic and sexual relationship flourishes, lending an entirely new dimension to their mostly uneventful and miserable lives.

At first, no one suspects the romance. The two husbands could hardly conceive such relationship. Gradually, however, they begin to realise that the affinity between their wives is more than a mere affection. Finney becomes increasingly aggressive and menacing. He reminds his wife that a husband has full sway over his spouse. He constantly sends not-so-subtle signs of his intentions, telling Tally of the numerous men who killed their wives and proudly boasting in front of his neighbours that he once held a dog in the snow until it froze to death, as a punishment for his incessant barking. He leaves little doubt he could do the same to Tally.

While the plot sounds trivial and predictable, The World to Come is no ordinary movie. It was filmed in celluloid in just 24 days in two separate stints in order to capture the different seasons of the year. The outcome is splendid: winter is painted with abundant light and snow, and gentle blue hues, while spring and summer use a broader colour palette, often blurry and overexposed. These devices lend the movie a dreamlike sensation, a little bit like a Jan van Goyen painting.

The lines are also complex and delicate. The joint effort of two novelists paid off. It is also worthwhile mentioning that Fastvold herself is a writer, and I would hazard a guess that she engaged thoroughly with the two American males. The language is straightforward yet tasteful and elegant. Waterston’s delivery (she narrates most of the film, diary-style) is unhurried, measured and yet heartfelt. The movie wraps up with a reminder of the power of imagination, in a tribute to both cinema and literature. It is both possible and satisfactory to live inside the house of your dreams, even if it’s are confined to the realms of the mind. Or written in a book. Or printed on celluloid.

The World to Come is showing in Competition at the 77th Venice International Film Festival. A strong contender for the Festival’s top prize, the Golden Lion.

"Filthy genius movie"

By Victor Fraga - 06-09-2020

By Victor Fraga - 06-09-2020

Victor Fraga is a Brazilian born and London-based writer with more than 15 years of in...

DMovies Poll

Are the Oscars dirty enough for DMovies?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Most Read

Forget Friday the 13th, Paranormal Activity and the [Read More...]
Just a few years back, finding a film [Read More...]
A lot of British people would rather forget [Read More...]
A small family of four lives in a [Read More...]
Pigs might fly. And so Brexit might happen. [Read More...]
Holidaying in Cambodia with Isaac (Ross McCall), Ben [Read More...]

Read More

Different blokes different strokes!


Paul Risker - 11-05-2021

Irish filmmaker Eoin Macken talks about adapting Rob Doyle’s novel HERE ARE THE YOUNG MAN, the challenges transposing literary lexicon and structure onto the silver screen, toxic masculinity and much more - in an exclusive interview [Read More...]

Servants (Služobníci)

Ivan Ostrochovský

Victor Fraga - 10-05-2021

Two theology students grapple with the authoritarian Czechoslovakian regime and the collaborationist Catholic Church, in this somber and poetic period drama - on Curzon Home Cinema on Friday, May 14th, and also in selected cinemas [Read More...]

Once Upon a River

Haroula Rose

Victor Fraga - 06-05-2021

Indigenous teen in search of her mother embarks on a literal and metaphorical journey with more twists and turns than the local river - in virtual cinemas and VoD on Friday, May 7th [Read More...]

Facebook Comment

Website Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *