It starts with a detached, emotionless voice-over monologue. Combined with the stark, desolate imagery of a 19th-century frontier setting, "The World To Come" drops us out in the cold and despite the heat created between its two leads, is never quite able to warm us up.
"The World To Come" is reminiscent of recent lesbian love stories like "Ammonite" and "Disobedience," and like these films, features two bold, daring performances from its female leads. Abigail (Katherine Waterston) is a farmer's wife, who along with her husband, Dyer (Casey Affleck) is looking to find peace after a recent tragedy. Sparks fly when a new neighbor, Tallie (Vanessa Kirby) and her stern husband, Finney (Christopher Abbott), move close by. The two women strike up a friendship with passion bubbling just under the surface. Also stifled by the confines of not only their husbands but simply the world they were born into, they look for liberation at a time when such a thing was not quite yet available.
This forbidden romance feels strangely distant, despite the solid performances from Waterston and Kirby. They are not helped out by an increasingly wordy screenplay, as Abigail relates to the audience her subdued feelings by way of her diary.
The actors - like the roles they are inhabiting - seem confined. In "The World To Come," you keep waiting for the fire to ignite on-screen, but the chilliness lingers far too long.
Run Time: 1 hour 38 minutes.
Starring: Katherine Waterston, Vanessa Kirby, Christopher Abbott, Casey Affleck.
Directed by Mona Fastvold ("The Sleepwalker").
"The World To Come" is in release on Friday, February 12th, 2021.
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