Sundance 2019: The Tomorrow Man

Blythe Danner and John Lithgow appear in The Tomorrow Man by Noble Jones, an official selection of the Premieres program at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute. Photo by Noble Jones.

Character actor John Lithgow gets a leading role for a change opposite actress Blythe Danner in Noble Jones’ romantic dramedy, The Tomorrow Man.

Ed Hemsler (John Lithgow) and Ronnie Meisner (Blythe Danner) are meant for each other.  They just don’t know it yet.  Both of them are hoarders but for very different reasons.  Ed believes a disaster is headed to Earth so he wants to be ready for it.  Ronnie continually buys items that she doesn’t really need.  When Ed lays his eyes on her in the checkout lane, something about her sparks his interest.  So he does the next best thing he can do in order to get to know her–use his truck to block her car.  Nobody said that falling in love would be easy!

Some of Ed’s tactics as a way of wooing Ronnie certainly fall into stalker territory.  This includes following Ronnie to her business, where she works with Tina (Eve Harlow).  I’m hesitant to say that Ed is a prime example of toxic masculinity because I don’t think that is the angle that writer-director Noble Jones is going for.

On the family front, Ed gets invited by his son, Brian (Derek Cecil) to celebrate Thanksgiving with his family.  This includes Brian’s wife, Janet (Katie Aselton), and daughter, Jeanine (Sophie Thatcher).  As Ed has gotten to know Ronnie by this point, he decides to bring her.  Father and son have a striking difference of opinion as it turns out.  Ed believes that Brian needs to be ready for when SHTF (shit hits the fan).  The two clearly have some sort of estranged relationship which dates back to when Ed divorced Brian’s mother.  Things happen and Ed goes back home, only to end up in the hospital.  His doomsday paranoia have led him to cut back on medication–however wrong this may be.

What is very fascinating is that Noble Jones doesn’t just write and direct this film but he’s also the fricking director of photography!  The last director to also serve as DP on his own film went on to get an Oscar nomination!  I’m not saying that Jones will follow with such an honor.  I tip my cap and applaud him for this feat nonetheless.

John Lithgow is a notable character actor who usually turns up in supporting roles.  This is why it does feel strange to see him play a leading role for a change.  That said, he makes the best of it in this love story about two people north of sixty.  It’s also great to see Blythe Danner sharing a co-leading role.  After her performance in I’ll See You In My Dreams, it’s great to see the actress getting a sizable role in this film.

We don’t get many love stories about couples north of sixty.  What makes this one feel so different is the doomsday scenario that’s being used as a plot device.  Even though we worry about what may happen with the planet, the film leaves us caring what happens between Ed and Ronnie.

Helped by the chemistry between Lithgow and Danner, The Tomorrow Man shows that there’s still room for love–even when you’re hoarding for the end of the world.

CAST:  John Lithgow, Blythe Danner, Derek Cecil, Katie Aselton, Sophie Thatcher, Eve Harlow

The Tomorrow Man held its world premiere during the 2019 Sundance Film Festival in the Premieres program.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.