World of Tomorrow Review


It lasts just 17 minutes, but Don Herzfeldt’s World of Tomorrow packs more imagination into its running time than almost any other film I’ve ever seen. It’s a high-concept, low-sheen, utterly magical experience that, despite its brevity (or perhaps because of it), will certainly rank among my favorite films of 2015.

Technically, the film only features one character, though we meet several iterations of her. Emily is both a little girl and a grown-up clone, and the latter is coming to visit the former from the future in order to exchange memories before a cataclysmic event. Perhaps that’s already saying too much, but as the film only runs a quarter of an hour, there’s not much room for twists of plot. World of Tomorrow instead dervies surprise out of its uniquely bizarre charm and its mile-a-minute pace.

That charm starts (but definitely does not end) with Herzfeldt’s aesthetic, which combines gleefully clunky two-dimensional figures with abstract computer-generated backgrounds. It’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen (unless you’re the rare Level 9 cinephile who’s sampled other Herzfeldt shorts or his 2012 feature-length It’s Such a Beautiful Day), but it’s more than a simple gimmick. Coupled with Herzfeldt’s brilliantly funny and imaginative screenplay, and you’ll fall in love with World of Tomorrow faster than you could believe going in.

And that makes the film’s willingness to emotionally pull the rug out from underneath you so welcome. There’s a five-second stretch near the film’s conclusion that will destroy you, and it comes after a barrage of heart-warming moments and hilarious non-sequitirs (future Emily falls in love with a rock, a fuel pump, and an alien creature named Simon). By the film’s true conclusion, you’ll be exhausted. There’s so much information in this film. So much emotion. It’s a one-of-a-kind movie experience.

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