The Future

26 Oct

For anyone who has seen her debut feature, Me You and Everyone We Know (2005), you will no doubt have fallen victim to the Miranda July effect. Writer, producer, director and actor, every inch of celluloid, beat of music, stream of light is imbued with her unique insight into the world and a touching, offbeat comedy. The Future, her second feature film, is no exception, perhaps even exceeding its predecessor in whimsy and thought-provoking hilarity.

Sophie (Miranda July) and Jason (Hamish Linklater) are exactly the kind of couple you want to be, quietly adorable, synchronised and the epitome of indie kook, right down to their wonderfully matching curly hair. Watching them entwined on the sofa, we listen to their surreal conversation about Jason’s ability to stop time, believing it to be nothing more than another of their daydream philosophies that most likely make up their days. But what makes The Future so enchanting is that it is exactly these bizarre thoughts that become the main crux of her film.

Speaking of the bizarre, there is no avoiding the fact that this film is also narrated by a cat – Paw-Paw, a stray we never meet (apart from his little bandaged paw) that Sophie and Jason found and took to the vet. However, despite having just been rescued from the cold streets by these kind souls, poor Paw-Paw must stay at the vet’s for one month to recover.

Contemplating how things will change when the cat returns to them, they decide to treat the next month as if it were their last. Sophie and Jason both quit the jobs they hate, unplug the internet and hope that what they really want from life will come and find them. Jason ends up selling trees door-to-door in a neighbourhood plagued with ‘No Soliciting’ signs, while Sophie decides to concentrate on her next art project, recording 30 dances in 30 days for YouTube. Of course, things are never quite as simple as this when veering off the path most travelled.

Their life together exists in a bubble of delightful quirk so when they both aspire to break out and explore the meaning of living life they are soon surprised when it takes them down two very different paths. For Jason, he meets Joe, an elderly man who sells re-wired electrical equipment and has a penchant for writing truly filthy, but strangely touching, postcards for his wife. Interestingly, and another example of how July’s films happily breach usual protocol, during the post-screening Q&A, Miranda (first name terms, clearly) explained that Joe was in fact a real person she met in the Classifieds, bringing a new level of pathos to his character and the role he later plays in Jason’s life.

As for the erotic limericks – also real, and also very edited for the film! For Sophie, however, she finds herself drawn to a man with a gold chain – an accessory which tells you everything you need to know about his intentions, apparently.

While The Future is indeed laugh out loud and heartbreakingly precious, it is intrinsically sad, exploring how one decision can, literally, cause a shift in space and time, and how easily life can subsequently de-rail. Drawing on July’s astonishing bastion of talent, particularly performance art, The Future’s more surreal moments, particularly life-coach moons, crawling t-shirts and t-shirt dances, soon dissolve into understanding as we are absorbed into July’s world.

The Future is a wonderfully peculiar film, taking us on a dreamlike journey through relationships, loss and defeat reminding us that meaning can be found in the strangest of places, it could be celestial or an old shirt from the past that just won’t leave us alone, either way, life will find a way to stop until we see the truth.

The Future was screened at the 55th BFI London Film Festival (in partnership with American Express) as part of the Film on the Square strand, on Thursday 20 and Sunday 23 October.

(As featured on thelondonword.com)

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