Tomorrow and Thereafter: A cruel but magnificent fairy tale
by Giorgia Del Don
- LOCARNO 2017: World-premiered in the awe-inspiring Piazza Grande, Noémie Lvovsky’s Tomorrow and Thereafter warms the most difficult-to-reach parts of our hearts
Directed by and starring the font of creativity that is Noémie Lvovsky, Tomorrow and Thereafter [+see also:
film profile], presented as a world premiere in the Piazza Grande at the Locarno Film Festival, recounts a simple fairy tale that conceals a subtext so rich that it is impossible to put into words. It presents a world made up of emotions that are too powerful to keep bottled up in a body that asks for nothing more than to be listened to, understood and set free. And thus the magic of cinema, a far cry from mere words, succeeds in reaching the darkest recesses of our very beings.
Mathilde (played by astonishing young actress Luce Rodriguez) is nine years old. She’s a smart little girl, but she doesn’t have many friends. Mathilde is different, or rather her life is. When she gets home, she is the one who has to take care of her mother, with whom she lives alone, following her parents’ divorce. And her mum is not like all the other mums. A fragile soul teetering between madness and hypersensitivity, her mother (an incredible Noémie Lvovsky) clings on as best she can to a reality that she is unable to decipher, building a fused relationship with her daughter that is akin to a proper love story.
Although peppered with intensely dreamlike sequences (such as the gentle flight of the talking owl that Mathilde’s mum gives her as a present) that conjure up delightful scenes that could have come straight out of Studio Ghibli, Tomorrow and Thereafter exudes an utterly worldly energy. Mathilde is thirsty: she has a thirst for life, for love and for certainty (first and foremost the certainty that she will not be abandoned by the person who is most important to her). The loneliness that enshrouds all of the characters, like a slightly wrinkled but extremely warm overcoat, shifts and transforms thanks to their movements and gestures, captured by Noémie Lvovsky’s camera, like a proper character in itself. It is precisely this solitude – which is both friendly and hostile at the same time – that enables the film to glide from the levity of a story into the complexity of reality. While Tomorrow and Thereafter does not insist on hammering away at the “practical” problems inherent in a mother-daughter relationship like this, it also manages to avoid ever getting too far-fetched. Lvovsky may leave aside the “plausibility” of day-to-day life in a way, but she does so in order to more effectively observe the emotions that quiver beneath the skin of her characters, to decipher the truth that so-called madness attempts to cover up. It is only through their final frenzied, liberating dance that the two main characters succeed in causing their volcano of emotions to erupt, which they have never managed to express through words alone. It’s as if their bodies, despite the complications that hold them captive, can simply not hold back the truth that is life. Mathieu Amalric (in the role of Mathilde’s father) pops up at the end of the movie like a magician waiting to lap up the audience’s applause after the curtain has gone down. His mysterious flippancy offers the relationship between Mathilde and her mother a possible – drastic but necessary – way out.
(Translated from Italian)
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