I didn’t want to dislike Tomorrow Ever After. A microbudget indie directed by and starring an Israeli-American woman, it’s as if the film had been genetically engineered for me to absolutely love it. Its well-meaning intentions almost make me feel bad about giving it a negative review.
And yet, Tomorrow Ever After is a really, truly, inescapably bad movie, primarily due to its director and star Ela Thier spreading herself far, far too thin in its production. Some filmmaker/actors can direct themselves. Thier cannot.
Tomorrow Ever After has a compelling premise: in the year 2592, a woman is accidentally transported to New York circa 2015, an era known in her time as “The Great Despair.” Thier posits a Utopian future, one without borders or hatred or war or strife or, presumably, stubbed toes. Her character, Shaina, is therefore totally unprepared for our present-day city life, which, Thier contends, is full of misery and despair. (There are montages – or, more accurately, series’s of shots – of random New Yorkers staring despondently into the camera as if to say “being a New Yorker in 2015 is about as bad a life as you can hope to have.” The lack of self-awareness, and the intense self-seriousness on display here is so very frustrating.)
The film begins with Shaina being mugged, not understanding that she’s being mugged, and using her “implement” (a magical future-card) to extract loads of money from an ATM and happily give it to her mugger. An ostensibly educated woman who by all accounts should know some basic history of American currency, Shaina just doesn’t get why everyone cares about money so much.
And that brings us to the film’s primary problem (disregarding the awful acting all around, the lazy cinematography, and infuriating “to be continued” ending), which is that Shaina is unbearably annoying. I think Thier looks forward to a future wherein society’s primary characteristic is that everyone is annoying, as she’s putting Shaina forward as a example of your typical 2592 woman. No matter how much other characters try to explain the present, or etiquette, or finances, or personal space, to her, she simply does not understand anything. Just because Shaina is from the future should not mean that she is dumb as a bag of rocks. The movie would work so much better if you simply read it as being about a mentally ill person let loose in the streets of New York.
It’s a shame more focus couldn’t have been given to Ebbe Bassey and Nabil Vinas, who play a couple central to the film’s plot. Both actors manage to display talent to the extent that either of them could give, I predict, a tremendous performance under better direction.
Thier clearly has some level of talent in front of and behind the camera – there are brief, fleeting moments in her performance and direction that display an awareness of how indie sci-fi should work, but because of her dual role here, neither her performance or her direction were given nearly as much focus as they deserved. Perhaps if she’d enlisted a different actress to play the lead, or had hired a director and focused on her acting, Tomorrow Ever After could be something. As it is, however – Tomorrow Ever After is very much nothing.