THE TOMORROW MAN: A Slow Wait For The End Of Days - Film Inquiry
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THE TOMORROW MAN: A Slow Wait For The End Of Days

THE TOMORROW MAN: A Slow Wait For The End Of Days

THE TOMORROW MAN: A Slow Wait For The End Of Days

We live in an age where the internet can bring people together for the better. It can also bring together people who believe in outlandish ideas like the impending end of days. The more certain people come together on the internet, the more they can become isolated in real life. The Tomorrow Man takes a closer look at the latter scenario through the eyes of an older gentleman finding love while prepping for shit to hit the fan.

Meet Ed Hemsler (John Lithgow) He’s a retired systems analyst who spends his days in online forums discussing conspiracies and what he believes . When he sets eyes on Ronnie Meisner (Blythe Danner) at the grocery store, something in him clicks – not just because he that she’s also a prepper.

After somewhat creepily and awkwardly – albeit somewhat endearing due to his age – introducing himself to Ronnie, they start forging a relationship. We follow them as they reveal and struggle through each of their deepest secrets, their troubled family histories and grow together to work on their individual issues.

The Tomorrow Man has moments of charm sprinkled throughout and two individually compelling characters. It even has a rich plate to tell a story on – a doomsday prepper having to slowly open up his world to a new love interest is fascinating. Unfortunately, The Tomorrow Man is too sparse to fill a feature and feels like more of a highlight reel of an older couple finding love than it does an exploration of these characters’ flaws.

Despite its weaknesses, The Tomorrow Man does offer valuable lessons for a younger generation, even if the film will likely only resonate with an older audience. Its greatest strength however, is its final scene – one you won’t believe writer and director Noble Lincoln Jones was able to pull off until you see it.

Compelling Characters Individually

On their own, Ed and Ronnie are fascinating characters. Ed as an isolated, older man who’s bought into the conspiracy corners of the internet and become a prepper could be a character study all on its own. Lithgow plays Ed with a sharp curiosity about him. He’s somewhat creepy and compulsive, but somehow sympathetic still – you can feel his loneliness. It’s an incredibly nuanced performance. His belief in conspiracy theories and prepping is brushed off as a quirk rather than the huge personality aspect it is.

THE TOMORROW MAN: A Slow Wait For The End Of Days
The Tomorrow Man (2019) – source: Bleecker Street

Ronnie is a quirky misfit. She seems like a free spirit and Danner is as sharp as ever. An exploration of her character on her own would also be fascinating. She’s lost her child at a young age and then her husband to cancer. Without giving anything away, how it affected her could be its own film worth seeing.

But Together, Their Relationship Doesn’t Dig Deep Enough

The problem is that both of what define these characters feels brushed over when we explore their romance. Rather than a look at how they can each overcome their unique problems to find love at an older age, they both accept each others flaws. It feels like the choice to make a lighthearted romantic comedy rather than a drama leaves rich territory unexplored.

The first real conflict doesn’t even come from Ed’s admission to Ronnie, it comes from his son and his family over dinner. The scene adds some depth to the story and gives us some time with the always fantastic and under appreciated Katie Aselton. In the end, it feels like a side plot that doesn’t really affect their relationship.

The Tomorrow Man: A Slow Wait For The End Of Days
The Tomorrow Man – source: Bleecker Street

As with their characters, The Tomorrow Man has enough charm to keep you interested, but not enough for you to feel invested. Some attempts to be charming come off as awkward or fall flat. In one scene, Ed jumps out of the car and runs away into a field because of his feelings for Ronnie and then comes back to kiss her. The quirky moments will undoubtedly appeal to an older audience, but I think it will come up empty with a younger audience.

Lessons Worth Hearing

Despite flaws in the story, The Tomorrow Man offers two important lessons worth listening to. The first is the danger of isolation (and it’s even more dangerous when combined with the internet). Both Ed and Ronnie are horribly alone in their lives. They seem so uncomfortable at first in dating each other. Ronnie keeps asking her younger coworker for advice and Ed seems incredibly unsure of himself anytime he’s not talking about doomsday scenarios. The toll isolation can take on us, especially when we’re older is terrible. The film reinforces the importance of a human connection.

The Tomorrow Man: A Slow Wait For The End Of Days
The Tomorrow Man (2019) – source: Bleecker Street

The second major lesson is that life is full of uncertainty, and that’s okay. Ed is so focused on the coming end of days than he is on enjoying his time before “shit hits the fan” as he likes to say. Even his son (Derek Cecil) needs to remind him, “It’s just the world. We’re all going to die one day.” While the lesson is a bit heavy handed and even in the title of the film, it’s still a valuable one.

The Tomorrow Man: A Mixed Bag

The Tomorrow Man is a film with endless potential. Unfortunately, Noble Lincoln Jones chose to explore a quirky romance rather than a story of reckoning with our deepest secrets. Both of the leads are fully fleshed out characters brought to life through vivid performances, but it’s hard for them to share the spotlight in a meaningful way. Despite bits of charm, and valuable lessons, The Tomorrow Man just doesn’t offer quite enough to fill a feature.

What did you think of The Tomorrow Man? Let us know in the comment section!

The Tomorrow Man is released in the US on May 22nd.

 

 

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