Computer scientist and futurist Ray Kurzweil, who has a pretty amazing track record of predicting technological innovations, believes that the 2040s will usher in the “technological singularity,” that time when humans will transcend all biological limitations and squishy cellular substrates to merge with artificial intelligence. In her comedy Tomorrow Ever After, writer-director Ela Thier predicts a distant future when humans are still awkward, mortal and cybernetically unaugmented, but have transcended economics and created an egalitarian culture involving caftans worn over pants, higher education and customary public displays of affection. Then Shaina (Thier), a historian from the year 2592, becomes trapped in 2015 Manhattan after a time-travel accident.
To uptight 21st-century people, she is disconcertingly tactile, embracing strangers, holding hands uninvited, constantly stroking arms and shoulders. She doesn’t understand that her first encounter is a mugging; instead, she hugs her assailant, Milton, as soon as he approaches her, and happily accompanies him to an ATM, where she uses her “implement” — a futuristic iPhone — to withdraw money for him. He ends up alternately assisting Shaina and attempting to steal her device. Meanwhile, Shaina receives clues about physicists who could repair her device and allow her to return home.
All of this might be profoundly silly if it weren’t built around Thier’s dignity and gentle humor. Her film’s low-budget seams show, and the acting is a little rickety in places, but she emanates charismatic warmth and seems genuinely engaged with the film’s theme of compassion in an era of despair.
Tomorrow Ever After
Directed by Ela Thier
Opens May 5, Cinema Village