Directed by Miranda July
Starring: Miranda July and Hamish Linklater
MPAA: R – For Some Sexual Content]
Ever since the rise of independent film making, one thing has become a yearly tradition: Quirky indie comedies about relationships. We’ve had Juno, the works of the Duplass Brothers, Little Miss Sunshine, etc. However, if I had to pick my favorite one amongst the pile of quirk on display, one of my main choices would be Miranda July’s Me and You and Everyone We Know, a film which she wrote, directed, produced, and starred in; that works not because it is quirky, but because it adds a level of honesty and preciousness in its quirk that few films in the sub-genre don’t do nearly as well.
Now, 6 years after her directorial debut, she has finally given us her follow-up: The Future. And the most perplexing thing about The Future is that while it retains Miranda July’s signature style and charm from her previous film, it feels like an almost completely different movie for this main reason: It’s a quirky indie comedy about relationships that uses those light, strange, quirks to explore much darker, more mature themes.
The Future is the story of Sophie (Miranda July) and Jason (Hamish Linklater), a couple that lives in a state of perpetual boredom and undemanding repetition. In need of something to bring commitment to their lives, without having to bear children, they decide to adopt a sick cat that they can take care of. This cat, by the way, narrates the story in a hauntingly poetic fashion.
Sophie and Jason can’t adopt the cat just yet, and have to wait thirty days in order to take it home. While waiting for their new cat, they realize that their lives should evolve. Once they receive that cat, it will be a full-time commitment, and they won’t be living freely anymore. Jason decides to sell trees throughout all of Los Angeles, Sophie decides to post dance videos on YouTube, and all the while, the cat awaits patiently for its new owners.
Upon first hearing this synopsis, it sounds like a rather typical indie film, with the talking cat being the only really unusual quirk in the quirk bucket. When you see the film however, The Future‘s insane ambitions begin to bloom, and you realize just how many things this film wishes to address to its viewers…as well as realize how freaking weird the end result is.
Without spoiling much, there’s a crawling shirt (Yes, a crawling shirt), a little girl who decides to bury herself up to her neck, and the moon begins to speak to Jason after he has successfully learned to completely stop all of time.
That’s right. What begins as a cutesy relationship dramedy evolves into the entire fabric of time and space collapsing on itself.
While Me and You and Everyone We Know was a quirky and weird movie, it was still grounded in reality. The Future, however, is abstract fantasy. Much like Charlie Kaufman’s masterful Synecdoche, New York, it blurs the lines between the realities of its characters, with their desires, dreams, and fears, until they all become one and the same. Synecdoche‘s Phillip Seymour Hoffman was able to have reality and art collide with one another until all of New York City was absorbed in Hoffman’s massive theater production. In The Future, Hamish Linklater’s Jason character must take hold of his meandering lifestyle to make time for his commitments by completely stopping time itself.
The film is just as challenging as it is rewarding. The abstractions provide food for thought to chew on for weeks after viewing, while still maintaining it’s core of humanity. The film’s main theme is the way we live our lives, and how we sometimes desire to change up the monotony, and all of the distractions, and hardships that come in doing so.
To change their lives, Sophie and Jason change the fabric of time and space. We obviously can’t do that in real life, but we sometimes wish that we could make similar changes to make our lives more fulfilling. The longing to stop time so that you can go to the meeting, and still make it to your child’s baseball game. Perhaps the wish to teleport so that we can see the world in the blink of an eye, without the trivialities of taxes and lengthy flight travel to get in the way.
The Future is, ironically enough, about the present and the longing for the future, rather than the future itself. One line that you’ll find in the trailer is when an old man tells Jason, “It can be hard in the beginning.” To which Jason replies, “We didn’t have those kind of problems in the beginning.” And the old man says to him, “Well, the thing is you’re just…in the middle of the beginning, right now.”
Miranda July’s Me and You and Everyone We Know was about the beginning of a relationship. The Future is about the middle of the beginning.
Final Verdict: Beneath the film’s central relationship and deceptively quirky tone is a dark, mature look at human existence and the things we do to live our lives so we can reach our desired futures. Is it better than Me and You and Everyone We Know? I personally enjoyed Me and You more, but The Future is a much more mature and thoughtful film, that touches its themes with a gentleness that, strangely enough, hits hard.
That is all.
See ya next time. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to play in my shirt….that doesn’t make sense with or without context. Bye!