There are certain words that pop up when writer/director/actress/artist/film-maker Miranda July is mentioned. Whimsy is one, fey, quirky, childlike, offbeat; all these are adequate, but none really hit the nail on the head.
Following her successful 2005 debut into film making Me and You and Everyone We Know, The Future echoes July’s previous film in her ability to turn the mundane into something quietly special.
One of the opening scenes shows protagonists Sophie (played by July) and Jason (Hamish Linklater) on each end of the couch, both on their respective laptops, not talking. From the outset the audience has a clear indication of the nature of their relationship- that it is easier to be together and existing, than it is to be apart and living. After the couple are told the cat they are about to adopt will easily live five years, and not the six months they were expecting, they are undergo an existential crisis, re-evaluating their relationship and forcing the pair off in different directions.
The film features some unusual artistic devices; Paw Paw the cat narrator, a talking moon, Jason’s ability to stop time and a t-shirt comforter that can crawl. All of these features coalesce to create something fantastical without being grandiose.
Those who were looking for a follow-up film with the same level of hope and feel-good as Me and You and Everyone We Know will be disappointed. The Future shows some of the more despondent sides of life. July apparently used a lot of her own positive qualities in Jason, and some of her more negative traits in Sophie, creating characters that have an innate humanity about them whilst still being infused with July’s trademark whimsy. Whilst Sophie and Jason say and do things that can seem offbeat and unlikely, they still retain an endearing authenticity about them.
People are often split into two groups when it comes to July’s work. For every person who finds her charming and inspirational is another who finds her work sickly sweet and annoying. There’s a good chance if you’re the type of person who goes for guns-blazing action films, then the stillness of July’s films won’t be for you.
The Future is a film that is speckled with offbeat, detached humour, quiet despair, and a satirical look at coupledom. If you’ve got a penchant for independent films, The Future could well be for you, if you don’t, give it a go anyway.