Locarno 2017 – review – TOMORROW AND THEREAFTER (“Demain et tous les autres jours,” Noémie Lvovsky, 2017, France)

Tomorrow and Thereafter posterMathilde (Luce Rodriguez) is a nine-year-old girl whose parents have recently separated. She lives with her mother (Noémie Lvovski), a fragile lady who has a tendency to lose touch with reality; though she is a loving mother, this disposition prevents her from taking care of her daughter properly. It is, in fact, Mathilde, who often finds herself having to be the responsible one.

Both Mathilde and her mother appear to have no friends, relatives, or acquaintances to speak of. Mathilde’s father (Mathieu Amalric) is mostly absent; though he is caring, they only communicate via Skype. One day, Mathilde receives an unusual present from her mother: a little owl. Soon enough, she discovers that she is able to talk to the owl, who becomes her closest friend, her conscience, a stand-in for her absent father and so on.

Tomorrow and Thereafter tries, for the most part, to be a coming-of-age drama about a nine-year-old girl’s challenging relationship with her parents, dominated by her perspective, but aimed at an adult audience. The intentions are nobly ambitious, but Lvovsky’s inability to distance herself from the movie leads to insufferable excesses that completely harm the film’s cohesiveness, especially as far as the film’s point of view is concerned.

Though the fairy-tale and gothic sequences are beautiful, they contrast with the narrative-driven nature of this drama. For instance, the stunning dream-sequence depicting Mathilde’s mother as a Shakespearean Ophelia running through the forest looking for her drowning daughter, inspired by the works of the great illustrator John Everett Millais, is wonderful, but purely surplus and paradoxically demystifying.

Even the naturalistic side of the story is flawed. For instance, it is the lack of the physical presence of Amalric’s character that makes it so powerful. However, later in the film, scenes that happen outside of Mathilde’s field of vision, involving her father and mother speaking alone, feel irresponsibly inconsistent. There is no such need for them, especially given that Tomorrow and Thereafter never confronts the particulars of the relationship between them, or even the question of mental illness, which remains a mystery.

In the midst of this vanity project, Lvovsky too must be praised for directing Rodriguez through a fine performance. It’s difficult to understate the importance of the way in which this young actress takes on the sophisticated, challenging character and her relationships with those around her. A close-up of her face may, at any given moment, express pain, anguish, love, happiness, anger and so on; this is enough to make the entire prologue of the movie, in which Anais Demoustier plays an older Mathilde, seem totally unnecessary. – ★★

DEMAIN ET TOUR LES AUTRES JOURS | 2017, France | Drama | Directed by – Noémie Lvovsky / Produced by – Jean-Louis Livi / Written by – Noémie Lvovsky, Florence Seyvos / Cinematography – Jean-Marc Fabre / Editing – Annette Dutertre, Anne Weil / Starring – Luce Rodriguez, Noémie Lvovsky, Mathieu Amalric, Micha Lescot, Elsa Amiel, Anaïs Demoustier | Running time: 96 mins.


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