Monday, August 1, 2011

Movie with Abe: The Future

The Future
Directed by Miranda July
Released July 29, 2011

In 2005, Miranda July wrote, directed, and starred in her first feature film, “Me and You and Everyone We Know,” a distinctive and entirely unique look at love and life. From that promising start, it’s fair to say that her follow-up film is highly anticipated to a degree. There’s something about the way July thinks and writes that doesn’t adhere to societal norms and seems to know no bounds. There’s some of that, to be sure, in “The Future,” but as a whole, it feels more like an unfinished, incomplete experience on the verge of discovering something extraordinary that never quite gets there.

Instead of an ensemble cast with multiple threads, as was the case in her previous film, “The Future” centers on only one couple, Sophie (July) and Jason (Hamish Linklater). As they prepare to adopt a dog, Sophie and Jason plan to make the most of their last thirty days without anyone else in their lives. As they contemplate what will next become of their relationship, they find their bond tested as they look to their futures as individuals and as a pair.

There are several irresistibly intriguing and innovative moments in “The Future.” Sophie decides that she’s going to cut off Internet access for the month leading up to the adoption, and tells Jason that he should look anything up that he wants to know before the service is disconnected. Jason also purports to be able to freeze time, a game in which Sophie gleefully plays along, and it’s only when he and Sophie are in the middle of a huge argument that his invented superpowers actually become real, and he finds himself stuck in a motionless world. These are glimmers of the creativity that makes July such a fascinating talent.

Other untraditional efforts don’t work nearly as well. July does double duty as the voice of Paw-Paw, the dog Sophie and Jason are planning to adopt. The high-pitched dialogue is cringe-inducing at times, and only occasionally effective as narration. July and Linklater, whose resume consists mostly of irrelevant sarcastic lines uttered on “The New Adventures of Old Christine,” do an able job of playing their parts, but the characters are only as strong as the story that supports them. This is a film that tries not to be a conventional narrative story, yet it’s not as detached from reality as it might think and as a result feels, more than anything, aimless.


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