Directed by Mona Fastvold, The World to Come is a 19th-century same-sex romance story set on the icy backdrop of a secluded farmhouse.
Abigail (Katherine Waterston), a forlorn housewife who recently lost her daughter to disease, doesn’t find the passion or the love in her marriage to make her happy again. She goes on with her daily household rituals as well as helping her husband, Dyer (Casey Affleck) on the farm. But the arrival of another couple, Tallie (Vanessa Kirby) and Finney (Christopher Abbott), sparks a sense of curiosity and restlessness in Abigail. The two women exchange fleeting glances, filling us with the hope for a fiery love story to unfold.
The 19th-century projection of the female characters is intricately done, with lots of detail but sadly, the world-building of a countryside farm life isn’t developed as well. The daily lives of Abigail and her husband will leave the audience curious to know more about their farm and the surroundings. The director’s primary focus is on Abigail and how she transforms into this headstrong, determined, and bossy woman, because of her lover, Tallie.
The chemistry between Abigail and Tallie fails to spark up any evocative feeling in the hearts of the audience. It feels like the director is scared to reveal their intimate moments throughout the storyline until the very end. The cinematography is done ever so brilliantly, however, allowing the audience to find realism and warmth in the story.
Katherine Waterston and Vanessa Kirby give a brilliant performance and do full justice to their individual roles of playing 19th-century lonely housewives, who are only meant to take care of their husbands and bear children. Waterston narrates the story excellently in her soft, calm, and poetic manner, thus adding a literary touch to the film. The men in the story are projected weakly, like some secondary characters looming in the background, the film failing to give an in-depth view of their personalities.
Despite calmness in the midst of some gory violence with a heartbreaking climax, The World to Come fails to engage or evoke any emotions from its audience. Thankfully, it’s stunning to look at.
Jesse Plemons was originally cast but dropped out and was replaced by Christopher Abbott.