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Featured DVD Review: The Future

November 29th, 2011

The Future - Buy from Amazon

Miranda July first came to prominence after she wrote / directed / starred in Me and You and Everyone We Know. That film earned excellent reviews and did very well at the box office, earning nearly twice its production budget. Five years later she is back as the writer / director / star of The Future. Can this film live up to her previous film? Will it help her find a wider audience? Or is it a step back from her first film?

The Movie

The film begins with a voiceover from Paw Paw, an injured cat at a shelter. It is going to be adopted by a couple, Sophie and Jason. The cat was in poor health and was only supposed to live for another six months, a month of which would be spent in the animal shelter. Even this level of commitment is a little scary for these two. However, when a nurse at the animal shelter says Paw Paw could live as long as five years, they panic. They panic in a very low energy kind of way, but it's still there.

Their line of thought, if it can be called that, is thus. In five years, they will be forty. Forty is close to fifty. Fifty is nearly dead. Therefore, as soon as they get this cat, their lives will be good as over. However, they also decide since they only have a month to go till their new pet arrives, they will re-prioritize their lives, starting with quitting their jobs. (Sophie taught dance class for little kids and Jason worked tech support from home.) With their new freedoms to do anything, Sophie decides to record dances for YouTube, while Jason hopes to remain open to whatever comes his way, which is working for an environmental group. When Jason's final month of freedom starts off better than Sophie's does (he meets an elderly man and the two become friends) her insecurities start to get the better of her. These manifest first in an inability to dance, which is a bit of a problem, as she pledged to do 30 new dances in 30 days. Instead of dancing, she makes a rather random phone call to Marshall, a man who drew a picture of his daughter, Gabriella, which Jason had bought. She calls just to have someone to talk to, but that relationship quickly becomes more.

Has this deadline changed who they are? And will their relationship survive such a significant change?

I'm not sure what to say about this movie. It's a profoundly strange movie with elements that range from very mundane effects to the magical. On the one hand, it's a film about a couple that are together out of inertia more than any thing else and when forced to change, they threaten to destroy what little they have keeping each other together. On the other hand, not only do we hear the thoughts of the soon-to-be adopted cat, but Jason can apparently stop time while Sophie has a security T-shirt that can move on its own. However, for most of the movie little happens. The two lead characters are clearly not adults in the full sense of the word. They are closing in on middle age, but haven't really grown up. The film is filled with equal parts quirkiness and melancholy as a result.

The Future's a movie with a limited target audience. It was never going to be a hit with Megaplex crowds. Even fans of Indie films might find the depressed mood and the quirkiness a little too much to take sometimes. But, there are people who will love this film and watch it again and again.

The Extras

The extras on the DVD start with an audio commentary with Miranda July. It's not a high energy track, most solo tracks are not, but there's plenty of information given. Next up is a 16-minute making of featurette. Finally, there's one deleted scene.

The Verdict

The Future will divide audiences. I think it is worth checking out, while there are enough extras on the DVD that it is worth picking up, but it might be wise to start with a rental.


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