The Future Review

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  • The Future film still

Score

A playfully self-aware dig at the emptiness of some modern lifestyles that will make you check your own.

There’s no point sitting back and letting Miranda July’s second feature film, The Future, wash over you. Like her protagonist, Jason, you must stop time, part the sea and walk through its storied streets. Because over the course of 90 minutes, July creates an environment, like an art installation, that you can explore and experience. But you must work for it.

Stories and themes that tackle love, commitment and the formidable ‘what next?’ appear and disappear like clouds over a labyrinth of found objects, lost treasures and discarded junk. Search them out and you can find your own meanings among the detritus. As with her performance art and video chain-letters, July wants you to step inside the action. You are the actor in your life, she suggests, not a passive spectator.

The LA-based couple at the centre of The Future, Sophie and Jason (played by July and Hamish Linklater respectively), are struggling to take control of their own humdrum lives. With dead-end jobs, thwarted ambitions and laptop-induced melancholia, their days are kind of beige.

So they decide to rescue a stray cat, which they can collect in a month, and knowing this will be their last moon-orbit of freedom, they quit their jobs and try to redirect their paths – door-to-door activism for Jason, and 30 YouTube dances in 30 days for Sophie.

But their rebellion is short-lived and they soon fall back into society’s line – albeit more wonkily than before. Sophie has an affair with suburban dad Marshall (David Warshofsky), and Jason befriends an old man who sells cheap household items in a free-ads newspaper.

All of the characters in The Future are outsiders yearning to come in, and July juxtaposes them with their environments to highlight this discord. We meet the stray cat, Paw Paw – who talks in a cute, croaky voice (July's own) – in his cage at the rescue centre, dreaming of never spending another night in the cold.

Then there’s Marshall’s daughter, who buries herself neck-deep in the moonlit garden. And Sophie herself, standing awkwardly outside Marshall’s house in her nightie in the morning. These characters don’t fit this world and in these scenes they stand out, like curiosities in bell jars, suffocating in their own air.

The Future is a coming-of-middle-age comedy for Slacker kids in their thirties; those Gen X misfits who grew up without many prospects and are now facing the next stage of their lives with even less.

It would be easy to hate this film – fans of July’s directorial debut, the 2005 Camera d’Or-winning Me and You and Everyone We Know will be familiar with her eclectic, über twee and sometimes pretentious style – but it’s much more of a challenge to understand it.

You never know: among all the otherworldly references – talking moons and cats, little hippos, old Christmas cards, Escher paintings and googly eyes – you may just find some home truths.

Anticipation

Cinema’s indie darling is back with another offbeat rom-com for disconnected old souls.

4

Enjoyment

Long silences, muted colours and moony-eyed existentialism provide the backdrop for your own thought-making.

3

In Retrospect

A playfully self-aware dig at the emptiness of some modern lifestyles that will make you check your own.

4
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View 3 comments

SJC

3 years ago
You know this was going to be a bit frustrating when the voiceover sounds like its about to burst out laughing at any minute. I dont mind the leads being so mopey, but it just didnt ring true (in the guy's case it did more, but def not in MJs). You can tell theres always a smug smirk somewhere in the background. There is something good stuff in there, about not knowing where your life is going, about idling away your career, and getting frustrated with your choices in life but not knowing what sort of alternative you have, but quite a bit of it is undone by the smug hipster-ishness. I think her films might be better if she didnt act in them.

Emma Paterson

3 years ago
This is a great review

Brendan O'Neill

3 years ago
She's a genius in my opinion. Really looking forward to it. Are you reviewing a trailer or the actual film?
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