A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
It's important to feel seen and valued for who you are, to be able to be your true self with someone. Companionship and connection are essential, especially in a lonely place. No socially driven stigma connected to the characters' romance; issue is more that they're both already married.
Positive Role Models
Abigail and Tallie are intelligent, strong women who have sexual agency in a time that was unlikely to accept that. Their husbands are iffier: Dyer loves his wife but doesn't really know how to communicate with her, Finney is controlling and abusive. Cast members are all White.
Violence & Scariness
Inferences of domestic abuse, including bruises on a woman's body and a bloody handkerchief/rag. A main character dies, presumably from illness, but implication is that there could be a more sinister explanation. A home is on fire with someone trapped inside. A couple loses their child to illness; very sad scenes. Farm animals are killed or die frequently. Story about killing a pet.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Story revolves around passionate relationship/romance between two women who are already married to men. Breasts are shown during their passionate kissing/sex scenes. Non-graphic sex between a married couple. Masturbation. Man's naked backside is shown.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Wine at dinner. Laudanum use, which, in the 19th century, was understood to be medicinal. A minor character smokes.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The World to Come is a romantic drama set in the mid-1800s. Think of it as Little House on the Prairie: The Harsh Reality, with many details that show how hard farm life was in that era, especially for the farmer's wife. It's implied that farmers of the time viewed their wives as a type of property: A source of free labor and sex. But Abigail (Katherine Waterston, whom kids will know from The Fantastic Beasts movies) and Tallie (Vanessa Kirby) aren't "submitting to their husbands" much -- something the men aren't happy about. Instead, the women secretly connect with each other, leading to several scenes of passionate kissing, sensuality, and partial nudity (breasts). There are also non-graphic sex scenes between married couples, and a man's naked backside is seen. Domestic abuse is implied, a house is on fire with someone inside, a main character dies, animals are both slaughtered and frozen to death, and a couple is devastated by the loss of a child to illness. The movie's formal dialogue includes both infrequently used words ("asperity," anyone?) and old-fashioned phrases and speech patterns, which may turn off some teens. But for LGBTQ+ and feminist viewers, the story offers a compelling romance between two intelligent, strong women that will make you appreciate how far we've come. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
The love that grows between Abigail and Tallie is the kind of love we all hope for, regardless of our gender or sexual identity -- which is one of the small miracles of this film. To call The World to Come a "lesbian period romance" would be an oversimplification. Abigail and Tallie don't live in a world where someone would fall in love with a member of their own sex -- the feelings they develop don't have any context or precedent. And so they don't feel like a same-sex relationship is taboo; instead, it's revelatory. As Abigail says, once the friends step over that line and admit their feelings, the adrenaline rush of knowing what it's like to love, be loved, be seen, and be appreciated can only be expressed as "astonishment and joy." They're truly soulmates, and for LGBTQ+ teens, their story may provide rewarding validation.
The movie's other small miracle is how it transports viewers back to mid-1800s rural life. The elaborate production design is flawless, with painstaking accuracy in wardrobe, buildings, carts, and outdoor settings combining to establish the visual construct of a 19th century pioneering community. The way the characters speak -- both in their manner and in the matters they speak about -- also helps create this specific world, which makes viewers feel like they really understand what it would be like to be living there and then. That said, the characters' old-fashioned speech is both poetic and somewhat obtuse, creating a wall that some teens may not want to bother climbing. Combined with the quiet monotone voice-over that connects the scenes, Abigail and Tallie's story doesn't always feel as exciting as it is -- but it's worth sticking with for the wonder it projects onto how we would fare in such times and circumstances.
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Our Editors Recommend
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