MIFF Review: The Future (2011)

Once again I found myself in a crowded room at the Greater Union cinemas in Russell Street. Screening this time was the second sold out session of Miranda July’s highly anticipated follow up to Me and You and Everyone We Know. Patrons were evidently familiar with July’s style, as many strange and “interesting” characters lurked the foyer of the GU. Waiting with baited breath, the film began. From the reception that I witnessed, it would be safe to say that the film did not disappoint.

Sophie and Jason have been together for a while. They decide that they are going to adopt a shelter cat and take care of it for what they imagine will be only a limited time. Upon discovery that with tender loving care the cat could indeed live for years, Sophie and Jason are faced with an existential crisis. Assuming the cat lives for another five years, both Sophie and Jason will be in their early forties. In other words, life will be over (their words, not mine!) As the cat is still in recovery upon discovery of this fact, Sophie and Jason have 30 days until their lives are basically over. They both choose to make the best use of their time possible. But it is this notion of time that sees the characters through tumultuous struggles for the remainder of the film.

As Sophie, July displays an enigmatic character and a relatable heroine. She has job dissatisfaction and is fairly addicted to the Internet. For the first half of the film we see her as quite normal, and somewhat quirky. In the second half, however, Sophie makes a strange decision out of boredom that is quite out of the blue. Her motivations are unexpected, but because it is Miranda July, it feels easy to forgive her.

Jason, like Sophie is a relatable character. His dissatisfaction with his home based tech support job is palpable. Once the timer has been set, Jason, like Sophie, has grand plans to make the best use of his time. Of course, he gets carried away in a volunteer/Greenpeace type position. He is charming, endearing and good willed. Hamish Linklater plays Jason as charming, endearing and good willed. He is funny and the love between both July and his character feels natural through its awkwardness, but ultimately its uniqueness.

July also supplies the voice of Paw-Paw, the cat waiting the long 30 days to be picked up. Several monologues are spoken with the cutest voice that you’ve ever heard. Paw-paw’s naivety, yearning and young wisdom are devastating and heartbreakingly cute. Sounding more like melted better, audible sighs and hearts breaking were heard from all across the audience. It is moments like this that make a film festival experience feel like a necessity for all films.

The genre of The Future seems most obviously belonging to the Indie-kooky-drama genre. But there are also elements of another genre. The notion of stopping time whereupon two alternate stories (or universes…) are created belongs naturally to science fiction. My reading is that stopping and altering time, as evidenced in The Future, is an analogy of a break up. The desire to stop the hurt and the pain and put off the suffering is shown through the stopping of time. Jason’s numbness and unwillingness is displayed by his ability to thwart time itself. But this is really a metaphor for his pain. As his own time has stopped, another world has been created where time continues to run.

Without a doubt The Future is heart warming, funny and the lightest type of dark comedy out there. It is a whimsical piece with slightly perverse behaviour exhibited. The scenes however are not unsettling, as anyone who has seen Me and You and Everyone We Know with the chat-room poop scenes would know. These scenes simply display behaviour and do not cast judgement onto it, nor does it condemn or condone. It is just there. And while it some says it feels out of place, ultimately the way it is treated makes it feel like any other normal scene.

For me, it has been my favourite of the festival so far. The painful wait since Me and You and Everyone We Know has been well worth it.

The Future will be released through Madman Entertainment.

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