Wednesday, 2 November 2011

The Future (2011)

Image: Picturehouse Entertainment

Despite this being only her second feature film after Me and You and Everyone We Know, Miranda July has already become something of a polarising figure. Either you find her world-view intriguingly off-beat and bewitching, or you find it infuriatingly self-indulgent, twee, and kooky. The Future has proven to be divisive on the festival circuit and as fans of her previous work we were looking forward to seeing whether this film would confirm our interest or shatter it. 

35-year-olds Sophie (July) and Jason (Hamish Linklater) are on the verge of adopting a cat. When they’re told that they have to wait thirty days, they decide to try to fit as much artistic and spiritual fulfilment in as possible. As Sophie tries to fulfil her dancing aspirations and Jason goes door-to-door for an environmental campaign, can their relationship survive them focusing on themselves and not each other?

The Future is a love-it or hate-it film. Yes, that’s a simplistic statement, but after having watched it it’s difficult to imagine any reaction in-between. The thing that’s been picked up on the most often is that the film is narrated by Paw-Paw the cat (voiced by July), who sees Sophie and Jason very differently from how they see each other. You’ll either find the idea of a cat narrating a film for adults unbearably self-consciously quirky, or you’ll be charmed by the novel way of showing how unwittingly selfish these two individuals are.

The idea of a month-long self-fulfilment quest is an inherently narcissistic one, but we all have a yearning for time alone to develop ourselves and to figure out what we want our lives to be. Unfortunately for Sophie and Jason, this time pursuing their own interests shows how precarious their bond is. While Jason ambles quite happily into a strange friendship with an old man selling his belongings, Sophie finds herself frustrated by her inability to even start her “30 days, 30 dances” YouTube video and tentatively reaches out to single dad Marshall (David Warshofsky). July and Linklater are superb, with the former taking on a less likeable role than in her prior film, and the latter handling a tough third-act sequence with impressive plausibility.

July isn’t interested in simply showing a relationship under strain, however. Throw in a talking moon, a little girl digging a hole in the ground to sleep in, and a yellow t-shirt that threateningly pursues Sophie and you’ve got a knowingly surreal and comically offbeat film that will doubtlessly irritate as many as it will seduce. What did we think? For us, it was a beguiling, funny, touching film.

Verdict: Love July? You’ll love this. Hate her? Avoid at all costs. If you’re unfamiliar with her work but think it sounds like something you’d enjoy, give it a chance. It’s hard to say if you’ll love it or hate it, but we loved it.

4/5

JH

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