There’s a spiritual classic written by Jesuit Jean-Pierre de Caussade called The Sacrament of the Present Moment in which the author encourages his readers to seek God in the here and now because, when you really think about it, that’s all we’ve got. We can’t control what happens in the future and we cannot change the past. God speaks to us in the present moment and loves us in so many ways if we take the opportunity to stay in the moment and have hearts open to God’s work there.
I think de Caussade would enjoy “The Tomorrow Man,” written and directed by Noble Jones. The film tells the tale of two small town seniors, brilliantly played by John Lithgow and Blythe Danner, who each have their own issues but make an unlikely connection with each other and learn to appreciate the present moment.
Ed (Lithgow) putzes around his home in his underwear, doling out advice to strangers in online chat rooms. Watching the news, he imagines that the anchorwoman speaks directly to him. When he talks to his son on the phone, Ed regales poor Brian (Derek Cecil) with endless conspiracy theories and the need to be prepared for an inevitable doomsday. The extent of his social life seems to be his trips to the grocery store, where he has polite conversation with young Maggie (Isabel Boni), who runs the cash register.
When he spots Ronnie (Danner) at the store a few times, Ed likes what he sees and manufactures an interaction between them. Ronnie is less than impressed at first, politely dismissing him with a “you have a good day now,” but she eventually caves to Ed’s repeated invitations to coffee. Ed is convinced he’s found a kindred spirit in Ronnie and as they spend more and more time together, romance blooms.
Weird thing though. Ronnie spends time at Ed’s place but never invites him into her own home. When she finally does and her secret is revealed, Ed realizes that he’s totally misread her personality.
John Lithgow as Ed and Blythe Danner as Ronnie in "The Tomorrow Man" (Bleeker Street Media)
“The Tomorrow Man” is a wonderfully understated film made possible by the depth the two main stars bring to their respective roles. Danner shines especially in her facial expressions as Ronnie responds to Ed’s obvious quirks. Lithgow makes it possible for the audience to feel every swing in his roller coaster of emotions as the story progresses.
In a time and culture where the pursuit of power and success often occupies the younger generations to the neglect or detriment of the older folks, “The Tomorrow Man” celebrates those in their elder years, who can and do still live full and meaningful lives in so many ways. The importance of connection and relationship as the path to happiness pours out of this story in a powerful way as Ed and Ronnie learn how to appreciate each other in the here and now. Comparing the beginning sequence of the film with the ending sequence shows just how living the “sacrament of the present moment” can change a person for the better.