** out of ****
“Tomorrow is Today” was the opening film at the inaugural TriMedia Festival last weekend. The film was lauded by festival co-director Francie Glycenfer as “stunning.” I have another word for it: predictable.
Mark Hefti, who wrote the film (and acts in it as a drifter with a death wish), is obviously a movie fan because his screenplay is filled with clich/s from other movies.
There’s the selfless sick girl, played with optimistic muster by Scout Taylor-Compton of “Sleepover” and “Gilmore Girls” fame.
There’s the dead mother figure who, while never actually making an appearance in the film, serves as a spiritual guide for the heroine.
There’s the long walks on the beach; the discussions about destiny versus fate; the small-town police chief with skeletons in his closet; the stern but loving father; and the flashbacks in which everything is permeated by the milky glow of nostalgia.
I could go on, but I won’t. Suffice it to say that “Tomorrow is Today” breaks no new ground with its story.
Now, clich/s don’t always have to be a bad thing.
In 2004’s “Garden State” Natalie Portman played a character who was essentially the “savior girlfriend,” which is in the same general category of clich/s as the selfless sick girl.
But Portman’s performance in that film was filled with nuance and idiosyncrasy, which allowed her character to break free of her stereotypical origins.
Not so with Compton’s character Julie Peterson who, upon encountering Hefti’s drifter on a New Jersey beach, takes it upon herself to heal him physically and spiritually.
However, I have a hard time completely condemning the film because, darn it, it’s so sincere and hopeful, which is rare for a film these days.
Compton’s Julie truly believes in the power to affect positive change in the lives of others, as does this film.
But the writing just makes you wish that these actors and director Frederic Lumiere were all working in a much better film.
Compton is a likable and effervescent young woman, but she needs better material where she can mature as an actress, something that allows her to be her naturally bubbly self while also allowing her to exhibit some depth.
Hefti, as an actor, also stands out. He exudes a caustic charm, and I think I would have liked him more had his character not been so flat and his film transformation so predictable.
While “Tomorrow is Today” is certainly not a bad film, it is not a good one either. If only it had the balls to take old movie staples and breathe some life into them.
Hopefully as the TriMedia Festival grows in subsequent years, it will begin to attract films that are bolder in both their execution and their content.
Staff writer Jeff Schwartz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.