A divorced doomsday prepper named Ed (John Lithgow), falls in love with a beautiful widow named Ronnie (Blythe Danner). Ed meets Ronnie at a local grocery store and is impressed by her shopping skills, mistaking her for a fellow prepper. However, not only is Ronnie not a prepper, but in complete contrast to Ed’s meticulously ordered life, Ronnie is a secret hoarder, hiding an out-of-control habit that she developed in response to the pain of losing both her husband and daughter.
The Tomorrow Man has two compelling lead characters in Ed and Ronnie. They are both seniors in pain, using material objects as a way to secure their own versions of safety. In the United States, many of us have more material possessions than we need and this story deals with different types of mental disorders that can outwardly manifest through our relationship with our objects. The themes of The Tomorrow Man are well-timed with the currently tidiness crazy sparked by Japanese organization guru, Marie Kondo.
Ed and Ronnie each feel an extreme lack of control. Ed takes control via an orderly stockpile of necessities, such as toilet paper and canned goods.. He creates lists and makes what he considers smart shopping choices. He does not want to be caught unaware if the world comes to an end, which he thinks is imminent. He spends lots of time interacting with other preppers on doomsday message boards and making efforts to convert his adult son, which creates a strained relationship. While Ed may believe that there is a need to be prepared for doomsday, it is clear that he is also reacting to a nasty divorce and the break-up of his family. He is not close to his son. The prepping is Ed’s way of feeling like he has control over his life.
Ronnie’s control comes from the comfort of buying and surrounding herself with objects. When her daughter and husband died, she simply kept their things and kept adding to her collections, until the problem grew out of control. Ed loves to share that he is a prepper, where as Ronnie is ashamed to be a hoarder. She dates Ed for a long time, before sharing this aspect of her life with him. It is too painful.
The Tomorrow Man is an interesting story idea.. I’m fascinated by the way we relate to our possessions and I am drawn towards stories that involve grief. The lead actors are fabulous. However, The Tomorrow Man is not a great film. It was snail pace slow. Ed and Ronnie are socially awkward characters and rather than it be endearing, it was uncomfortable.
Ed develops a crush on Ronnie, while seeing her at a grocery store and to get her attention, he stalks her in a creepy way. She is clearly uncomfortable with his behavior, yet, she inexplicably agrees to his offer of a date. I really thought that we were going to discover that Ed or even both Ed and Ronnie, are autistic, which would explain the lack towards understanding social cues, but this was not revealed in the story. For example, in Graeme Simsion’s novel, The Rosie Project, the main character is autistic and in love, making many blunders, yet he is likeable and charming. Ed remained uncomfortable throughout The Tomorrow Man.
The ending was quirky. I did not anticipate it. The scene that precedes the final minute, is quite lovely, with Ed and Ronnie both making big strides towards overcoming their issues with control.
I would not recommend The Tomorrow Man. The story is clunky and slow. However, it does present thought-provoking content, specifically, it will make you consider you own relationship with your stuff. It made me feel like having a good spring clean!