Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Watch: James Bond Is Back In First Trailer For 'Spectre' Starring Daniel Craig, Lea Seydoux, Dave Bautista, & More Watch: James Bond Is Back In First Trailer For 'Spectre' Starring Daniel Craig, Lea Seydoux, Dave Bautista, & More Terrence Malick's Next Film With Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara & Michael Fassbender Reportedly Gets Titled Terrence Malick's Next Film With Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara & Michael Fassbender Reportedly Gets Titled Watch: Jake Gyllenhaal Gets Bloody And Bruised In First Trailer For Boxing Drama 'Southpaw' Watch: Jake Gyllenhaal Gets Bloody And Bruised In First Trailer For Boxing Drama 'Southpaw' New Infographic Lays Out Canonical 'Star Wars' Timeline With Films, TV And Books New Infographic Lays Out Canonical 'Star Wars' Timeline With Films, TV And Books First Official Image: Jesse Eisenberg As Lex Luthor In 'Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice' First Official Image: Jesse Eisenberg As Lex Luthor In 'Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice' Watch: First Trailer For Arnold Schwarzenegger's Zombie Pic 'Maggie' With Abigail Breslin Watch: First Trailer For Arnold Schwarzenegger's Zombie Pic 'Maggie' With Abigail Breslin Idris Elba Replaces Jamie Foxx In Harmony Korine's 'The Trap,' Al Pacino, Robert Pattinson, James Franco Also Join Idris Elba Replaces Jamie Foxx In Harmony Korine's 'The Trap,' Al Pacino, Robert Pattinson, James Franco Also Join 10 Terrible Films Starring Great Actors 10 Terrible Films Starring Great Actors Watch: Tom Hanks Acts Out His Filmography In 7-Minutes On 'The Late Late Show' Watch: Tom Hanks Acts Out His Filmography In 7-Minutes On 'The Late Late Show' New Directors/New Films Review: Jia Zhang-ke Produced 'K' Is A New Take On Franz Kafka's 'The Castle' New Directors/New Films Review: Jia Zhang-ke Produced 'K' Is A New Take On Franz Kafka's 'The Castle' Viggo Mortensen Reveals He Turned Down Quentin Tarantino's 'The Hateful Eight,' Auditioned For 'Reservoir Dogs' Viggo Mortensen Reveals He Turned Down Quentin Tarantino's 'The Hateful Eight,' Auditioned For 'Reservoir Dogs' Watch: First Teaser Trailer For 'Mission: Impossible: Rogue Nation' With Tom Cruise Arrives, If You Choose To Accept It Watch: First Teaser Trailer For 'Mission: Impossible: Rogue Nation' With Tom Cruise Arrives, If You Choose To Accept It Jonathan Nolan Says His Original Ending To 'Interstellar' Was “Much More Straightforward” Jonathan Nolan Says His Original Ending To 'Interstellar' Was “Much More Straightforward” The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen Best Of 2014: The 15 Best Movie Soundtracks Of 2014 Best Of 2014: The 15 Best Movie Soundtracks Of 2014 The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More

Review: 'The Future' Showcases A Vital Filmmaker Still Sowing Her Oats

The Playlist By Gabe Toro | The Playlist July 28, 2011 at 4:31AM

In “Another Earth,” Mike Cahill’s recent science fiction picture, a cataclysmic event provides the backdrop for a small-scale human story about tragedy and mourning. In the upcoming Evan Glodell-directed “Bellflower,” the characters plan for an oncoming apocalypse just as one of them deals with a devastating broken heart. And now we have “The Future,” where writer-director Miranda July ponders our every day roles within the framework of what tomorrow holds. Clearly, there’s a movement of indie directors concerned about What It All Means.
2


In “Another Earth,” Mike Cahill’s recent science fiction picture, a cataclysmic event provides the backdrop for a small-scale human story about tragedy and mourning. In the upcoming Evan Glodell-directed “Bellflower,” the characters plan for an oncoming apocalypse just as one of them deals with a devastating broken heart. And now we have “The Future,” where writer-director Miranda July ponders our every day roles within the framework of what tomorrow holds. Clearly, there’s a movement of indie directors concerned about What It All Means.

July plays Sophie, who, with her boyfriend Jason (Hamish Linklater) are trying to acclimate themselves to the “real world.” Nominally, they’re worried about paying bills and keeping their heads above water. But they also worry if what they’ve accomplished enough to contribute to the future. Have they made their imprint on what the world holds for tomorrow? How have they affected their surroundings?


Of course, the manner in which these two dither and feud about their shared future may limit your mileage with them. Sophie teaches dance on-and-off, though she remains mostly concerned with designing her own soft-shoe routine, a distinct, individual routine that will be remembered through social networking. Jason takes a more foot-to-the-ground approach, seeking employment in all ways, eventually becoming a cheerleader for environmental causes.

Both are naturally sidetracked from their pursuits. Sophie’s idleness leads her to stray, where she finds solace in the arms of an older man who gives her meaning simply by sexualizing her. By assuming a certain posture, she takes control of her own narrative, her physicality giving her the gift by itself that her dance could not. Without fully committing to his randy outlook on life, she opens herself to his lascivious come-ons, objectifying herself knowing that, in a way, she’s coming out of her shell of self-pity and shared discontent with Jason.

There’s more consternation on Jason’s side, as he struggles to realize exactly what environmental concerns the world is showcasing before we all meet a certain doom. Unfortunately, as his pleas become more practiced, more focused, and more compassionate, he finds the interests of others to wane. When he expresses hope that someone else might canvass his territory, he is told by his employer he is the only one available. The burdens of the future have been placed on him, and as a young, lanky, creative twentysomething, he’s likely to crumble.

Like July’s partner Mike Mills and his recent “Beginners,” “The Future” features a philosophical animal. However, Paw-Paw narrates while injured from inside a cage at the veterinarian’s office, wondering when she’ll be free, her very existence a sick joke. While our two leads have been worried the scope of their lives has been too small, Paw-Paw doesn’t look beyond going home to her owners. The perspective shift, and how it affects people differently, is an intangible attribute July tries to bring to the screen.

Consider a scene that reads like a cheap joke on paper. Sophie meets up with an old friend and they engage in a shot-reverse shot dialogue about how the time has passed. As Sophie remains the same young, asexual twentysomething, her friends age considerably in each brief shot, as do their suddenly-emerging kids. Soon, Sophie finds herself sharing a conversation with their fully-grown progeny, wondering exactly where the time went. This would play as a rimshot on a sitcom, but in “The Future,” there’s a wistful humor to the moment followed by the horror show of extreme progression. July’s approach to “comedy” as it were, is to push the joke until it becomes genuinely scary.

The knee-jerk reaction to July, and particularly to “Me And You And Everyone We Know,” is to heap scorn at her characters, overly-poetic loners or disaffected hipsters with no real concerns. “The Future” accentuates that a bit, as July’s Sophie first couches her concerns about Paw-Paw and the world that will greet her return in statements worded as questions, much like a twelve year old hoping against hope that The Answer will come from a fusillade of questions. But July subverts the inner city detachment of her world with a dollop of magical realism - a sudden shift in perspective here, a temporal improbability there.

Miranda July hasn’t yet evolved into a serious filmmaker yet - she’s too glib about matters of real life, too detached from how the other side lives. A moment where she gawks at dancers on YouTube is tinged with cultural and racial condescension, suggesting as a humanist, she has a ways to go. But “The Future” pokes and shakes at unpredictable moments and explores the cinematic space that other filmmakers would otherwise ignore. In its own way, it’s unforgettable. [B]

This article is related to: Films, Review, Miranda July, The Future


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


Check out Indiewire on LockerDome on LockerDome

E-Mail Updates