As infuriatingly twee as it is disquietly strange and unusually thoughtful, The Future is a step back in multimedia artist Miranda July's film career after the endearing oddness of her debut Me and You and Everyone We Know. Here, her skewed, offbeat look at a generation of people fearful of growing up, of over-educated underachievers overly dependent on technology and unsure about how to get along in the real world, asks a number of interesting, relevant questions. But Ms. July does so in a stylistically artless, narratively surreal way that might look like nothing else around at the moment but never really coalesces into a proper cinematic statement.

     Sophie (Ms. July) and Jason (Hamish Linklater) are an aimless Angeleno couple in their mid-thirties that ramble on in low-level jobs; upon deciding to adopt a sick cat, they decide to live like there's no tomorrow during the month before they pick him up, looking for all sorts of meaningful relationships and moments as a goodbye to freedom before caring for their surrogate child takes up most of their time. But nothing really turns out the way it was expected, and that gives The Future its sad, haunting subtext built out of life's accumulation of daily small disappointments, juxtaposed with the star/director/writer's whimsical, often surreal inventions.

     Those surreal inventions - Sophie's safety blanket T-shirt and guileless affair with the owner of a sign company, Jason's ability to stop time and chat with the moon - are what make The Future such an uncomfortable, bewildering watch. There is a sense that Ms. July is trying to articulate the inside of her mind live in front of the viewer, but she comes across instead as a dilettante artist attempting to translate her universe into narrative images without having enough of a skill set to do so. The result is simultaneously intriguing and insufferable, enough to make you wonder if another director might not have turned it into the film that is undoubtedly lurking inside here but didn't quite come out this time around.

Cast: Hamish Linklater, Miranda July, David Warshofsky, Isabella Acres, Joe Putterlik

Director, writer: Ms. July
Cinematography: Nikolai von Graevenitz (colour)
Music: Jon Brion
Designer: Elliott Hostetter
Costumes: Christie Wittenborn
Editor: Andrew Bird
Producers: Gina Kwon, Roman Paul, Gerhard Meixner (Razor Filmproduktion, GNK and Leopold in cooperation with Film 4, in association with The Match Factory and Haut et Court)
Germany/USA/United Kingdom/France, 2010, 91 minutes

Screened: Berlin Film Festival - official competition, Berlinale Palast, Berlin, February 15th 2011; DVD, Lisbon, August 11th 2012


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