Published Aug 04, 2011Miranda July's first feature since her i2005 debut (Me and You and Everyone We Know), The Future is a work determined to sabotage itself at every opportunity, yet in which every decision also makes its own sort of sense. As pretentious as it is, The Future asks the audience to "listen to the notes that aren't being played" to tell the story of, well, belief in something even when everything you're told or know tells you that you shouldn't.
The Future lightly sketches the story of a couple that stumble upon relationship crossroads, adopting a cat that they realize signifies the confirmation of their future together and their own battles with the idea that they just haven't done quite enough for themselves to make that kind of commitment. July ― clumsily ― pollutes the film with a grab-bag of affectation that makes her previous work look measured and reserved, such as cutesy narration by the feline (including shots of puppet-y cat legs) and a symbolic crawling T-shirt. These work as a kind of noise that almost frantically tries to hide a sincerity in the film that, upon reflection, is about characters doing their best to hide from the things they should be sincere about.
July is also a filmmaker with an unapologetically female eye, but here, her gaze is surprisingly harsh on Sophie's flaws, making partner Jason (Hamish Linklater) the emotional core of the piece in a way that should be inexcusable. The film tells you little about why he should care, keeping things vague enough that the audience knows as much as he does ― that it's important for reasons he'll only learn one day.
Placing the viewer in that position asks a great deal (which does speak somewhat to July's past in performance art) and The Future is more likely to frustrate than move you. But because of that it's more valid and true to its subject matter than at first appearances; you're simply going to have to believe that it's worth that effort, in the end. (Mongrel Media)