Julia von Heinz’s German protest story has an infectious energy, one built by a confused protagonist and a cast of protestors that are hoping to make serious, relatable change.
This review of the Netflix film And Tomorrow the Entire World does not contain spoilers — the drama film was released on the streaming service on May 6, 2021.
“In the end, it’s just a stage for those seeking the limelight,” says Dietmar (Andreas Lust), a veteran of leftist political movements in Germany. Dietmar represents the revolution of the past, focused on making big moves that they believed would create a new society, one without Nazis, xenophobes, and racists. He provides a safe harbor for the new revolution, a small subset of Antifa, young Germans hoping to fight back against the rise of right-wing political and violent organizations. The version of Antifa depicted in Julia von Heinz’s And Tomorrow the Entire World consists of students, upper-middle-class rebels, nonprofit organizers, and those that just want to cook and serve food to immigrants undeserving of hate.
Luisa (Mala Emde) falls into the first two categories. A 20-year-old law student, Luisa joins her friend Batte’s (Luisa-Céline Gaffron) cell of Antifa protestors and hopeful changemakers. Together, the group likes to party, dance, forage, and live in a commune of sorts, a nonprofit in the making called P91. They’re fighting against the Liste 14 Party, a right-wing political party that involves Nazism, anti-Semitism, anti-immigration, and white supremacy. Soon after Luisa moves into their shared home, she attends her first protest, which, as expected, leads to violence after some of her friends throw paint-filled eggs at the right-wing speakers and security. She’s chased down, physically and sexually assaulted, and saved by Alfa (Noah Saavedra), P91’s bad boy.
Luisa falls further from Batte and into the arms of Alfa and his best friend, Lenor (Tonio Schneider), who call for more serious action than peaceful gatherings, rallies, and food drives. Alfa leads this charge, taking on a heroic role in Luisa’s eyes, pushing others to batter their opposers’ cars, to wait for them in parking lots, and to show force. The results rarely come without casualties though, the most common being Luisa’s health, as she seems to suffer worsening injuries at each event.
As tensions rise between P91 and Liste 14, Luisa, Alfa, and Lenor look to make serious moves, while the rest of the commune (including Batte) receive blowback in the form of a house raid, criminal charges, and constant surveillance. Her romantic relationship with Alfa intensifies, as they both commit to whatever will happen next. As their efforts become more intense, the success doesn’t come, and their intentions become cloudier. Both from upper-middle-class upbringings, the two additionally go to school, with some inner ideal that their lives will settle down into a state of commonness. A piece of each person believes in this cause, but an air of boredom and childish rebellion exists as well. They act without consequence, understanding that their parents, their status, their wealth can likely save them, especially in the case of Luisa, whose family lives in a mansion on a hill.
Her reasoning is built on anger, influenced by conservative parents and a suffocated life. Netflix’s And Tomorrow the Entire World doesn’t wait around for her to consider this, though, moving often at a breakneck speed from protest to bombing, from party to police raid. Von Heinz’s film remains compelling because of its closeness to today’s world, a struggle that has gone on for generations, and camerawork that immerses you with the shakiness felt by its protagonist. Though the romantic subplot takes away from the film’s overall pointed message, it still gives another glimpse into the mind of a young woman hoping to make a change, regardless of her reasons for being in this position. And von Heinz’s film rarely feels impersonal, always opting for immediate proximity when capturing Luisa and her friends.
Emde provides a solid performance in the lead role, switching from frustration and ire to brokenness by the hour. The ensemble around her lifts her up and breaks her down, existing to bounce off of her emotions and her decision-making, all of which aid in the hope of understanding her current mindset. Schneider as Lenor becomes memorable, though, as someone who doesn’t seem to have another choice in this fight, with no money or family to fall back on if a protest goes south. He’s attempting to change people, to fight without fury, and to bring people together to a certain degree. He’s level-headed, yet exhausted from the people around him. He’s confused, jealous, quiet, and fantastic.
Von Heinz’s drama takes on the shape of its lead, rising with action and falling with a love interest that only sidetracks her mission and her likability. Like many 20-year-olds, she’s rash, aggrieved, and fighting for something, even if it’s her own ability to enact change. Like Dietmar says, protest is often a stage, and Luisa wants a piece of the limelight, even if she won’t admit it. Von Heinz’s film gives this character that platform, for better or worse.