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The Tomorrow Man (A Movie Review)

Updated: Mar 1, 2020

The Tomorrow Man


Starring John Lithgow, Blythe Danner, Derek Cecil, Katie Aselton, Sophie Thatcher, Eve Harlow, Wendy Makkena, Tyler Aser, Isabelle Boni, Liz Cameron, David Chen, Gloria J. Dancause, Shawn M. Essler, Katherine Fudge, Andrew Gonsalves, Jake Harrington, Naveen Havannavar, Ben Kruger, Anthony Lafornara, Jeff Moon, Joe Napier, Joanna Petrus, Andy Rich, John Sindoni and Danielle Smith.

Screenplay by Noble Jones.

Directed by Noble Jones.

Distributed by Bleecker Street. 94 minutes. Rated PG-13.

It’s rare that you find a romance about characters “on the wrong side of sixty,” as one of them refers to it. (Actually, these two characters are probably on the wrong side of seventy.)

However, this sweet romance about two beyond-quirky elderly people finding love in upstate New York is both charming and occasionally disturbing. The couple is both in their own way obsessed with the future and at the same time a slave to their pasts. They have been living and working alone for so long they both have pretty much given up on love – or even any type of relationship – before he happens to see her in the grocery store and see her as a kindred spirit.

He is Ed (John Lithgow), a retired ball-bearing executive who is obsessed that the world is coming to an end – to the point that he has been hoarding food, water and supplies in a hidden storeroom in his home. He spends his days pontificating to his semi-estranged son (Derek Cecil from House of Cards), posting on survivalist chat boards, and obsessively watching the news (to the point where he imagines the local newscaster – who has a connection with him that is not revealed until late in the film – is speaking to him directly. His entire life revolves around being ready “WSHTF” – which is apparently survivalist internet lingo for “When the shit hits the fan.”

She is Ronnie (Blythe Danner), a woman who cannot afford to retire, so she works at a local antique store with a much younger woman. She is still in mourning for the daughter she lost when the girl was only 13. Other than home and work she does not appear to have much going on. Ed has assumed that she is a fellow “traveler” – a believer in the end days – but her actual eccentric trait turns out to be very different than what he imagined.

He tries to manipulate a meet-cute, though honestly, his courting of her seems a little stalker-y at several points. However, she is open to the intrusion into her life, and quickly they are spending a lot of time together.

Pleasantly – probably due to their age and both of their emotional walls – this is not a sexualized pick-up (although they do eventually hit that point). She wants to take things slow and he is courtly enough to readily agree to her wishes. Most importantly to both, it is company in a very lonely life. As her co-worker suggests, they are BFFs – though both of them have to check to find out exactly what that means.

Through their relationship, they both start to heal their lives and come out of their shells, bringing a bit of stability and normalcy into their lives.

I can’t quite decide if the final plot twist is serious or a bit of a joke – nor can I quite decide if it works of not – but it is an audacious bit of storytelling. I will give them that.

In all, The Tomorrow Man is a pretty good movie with two very good lead performances. John Lithgow is always worth seeing and it’s nice to see him in a lead role. Blythe Danner continues adding to her late career winning streak of smart, diverse roles. For an actress who never quite became as big as everyone expected her to be, she may just be in the most fertile and interesting period in her long-running career.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2019 All rights reserved. Posted: June 2, 2019.

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