Miranda July’s first feature, Me and You and Everyone We Know, was in my top ten of 2005, so I was quite looking forward to The Future. As soon as the film started, it was clear that July’s voice as a filmmaker hasn’t changed that much in the past five years – the same irreverence, black humour and playful charm abounds – but the film lacks the bounce of her first feature.
Sophie (July) and Jason (Hamish Linklater) have been together for some four years, and now that they are in the middle of their 30s they have decided to commit to taking care of a cat from the local animal shelter. When told that they’ll have to wait a month before they can pick the cat up, the two of them start to panic – this is their last four weeks of freedom before being tied down, at least for the length of the cat’s life. Fearful of approaching 40, the two of them begin to purposefully expand their horizons.
The first thing apparent from The Future is that the moments of humour begin to peter out pretty quickly. This is a fairly depressing feature. The characterisations are wonderfully human and show July’s uncanny knack for human frailty, but the characters are clearly in a descent, nonetheless. I should mention that if you found the quirkiness of Me and You and Everyone We Know to be bordering on pretentious, then this film would certainly be a source of frustration. This has all the sensibilities of an issue of ‘Frankie’ magazine, except without any glint of optimism.
The worst part is that it never feels like the characters – or indeed, the audience – learn anything from the exploits of Sophie and Jason. Instead, we see a couple of directionless thirtysomethings certain that they should be taking drastic measures, but not entirely sure why or how best to achieve it. It may be that at age 31, my own insecurities were hampering my enjoyment of the film, but I felt like the viewer would gain nothing from this bleak narrative.
There are glimpses of something positive every now and again, but for the most part The Future reflects the powerlessness explored in Me and You and Everyone We Know, yet doesn’t express the glee for life’s eccentricities that was apparent throughout that film.Rating: