Sometimes films can be a mixed bag. On one hand, you can like them, but once you start to deep dive into them, you can’t help but feel like maybe, just maybe, it isn’t what you exactly wanted. LGBTQ+ films set in the past are not new, for lesbian films they are kind of the norm, and I am just so tired of them. I feel like all we get are films that are set before electricity existed, where medicine wasn’t a thing and where suffering is all we can do. The World To Come might be great, but I couldn’t help but wish I was watching something that wasn’t set during the bubonic plague. Yes, I liked it, yes I think it is one of the best lesbians film (outside of the third act) that we have had a chance to watch, but at the same time, I hope this is the last one I have to sit through because I am so over it.
The World To Come is full of cliches when it comes to LGBTQ+ films, but also it is a film that hypnotizes you. The script just flows, the words flying off the page so effortlessly, the narration being turned into something that is more than just exposition. It’s a work of art, one that just lives on because of how Vanessa Kirby and Katherine Waterson’s chemistry bleeds off the screen, one that never falters. The moment they lock eyes, it becomes the best thing this film has, the way their body gravitate towards each other effortlessly, magnets for each other, it is infatuating and without it, I don’t think I would have been able to enjoy this film as much as I did.
The World To Come might not be the type of film that will work for the general audience, one where words become an art form of its own, the narration being as important as what we see on screen. The use of narration is something that I often will not be able to enjoy because most of the time it is simply used for exposition purposes. But the film finds a way to integrate it, making it a part of the story, a journal that we are witnessing. The private words of a woman that must live in secret and suffering, because of that, the narration works. It becomes its own character, one that is as essential as anything else in the film. It’s a vehicle that is used in the right way for once and elevates the final product.
The third act is really where I couldn’t help but groan and frown, a film that I might have had problems with because of the context surrounding it, became exactly what I didn’t want it to be. Happiness is just not something that we can get I assume, where the only thing that we can have by the end of a film is death. Death and suffering, those are the things that this film gives us by the end, a happy ending out of the question. Maybe it was wishful thinking, something that I had hoped this film would give me, a way to subvert my expectations, so when it all comes crashing down, it became impossible for me to enjoy it. I know some will say that it was the reality of the time, but I am tired of that. Why can’t I just have a film where the reality of the time isn’t something that I have to deal with, straight people get films like that all the time, so just give one to me.
The World To Come is a film that I enjoyed and yet will probably never go back and watch it. Not because it isn’t great, it is one of the best queer films that we have seen in recent years, but because of the setting and final act, I will simply never be able to enjoy it again. It’s a film that has everything working for it, a great script, two leads that have more chemistry than 99% of films, cinematography that just elevates everything and yet, all I can remember is the fact that once again I have to sit and watch us suffer. It’s a shame and maybe, in a few years, I will be able to rewatch it because of how LGBTQ+ films will have changed, but for now, I will look at it as a great yet flawed film.