Filmmaker, writer and actress Miranda July has never been one to follow the beat of anybody’s drum but her own. Her latest film, “The Future,” is possibly her most unorthodox work to date, infusing the mundane with her own unique blend of surreal whimsy.
Sophie (July) and Jason (Hamish Linklater) are a young couple who decide to adopt an injured cat. The animal shelter gives them a month before they can take the cat home.
Panicking at the ensuing responsibility of caring for another living thing, the couple races to fulfill their own personal goals before the end of the month.
Both quit their respective jobs and chase their dreams. Jason becomes involved with an environmental activist group and Sophie attempts to create her own dance videos to post on YouTube.
With the month slipping through their fingers, the two find their desires for the future all the more elusive. Things become even more complicated when Sophie begins an off-kilter affair with another man.
This all sounds very straightforward, but July, who writes, directs and stars in the film, throws things in wildly unexpected and unexplainable places.
Both Sophie and Jason are able to literally freeze time and space multiple times throughout the film. Sophie even goes as far as creating a sort of parallel universe where she can test out having an affair with an older man seemingly without any consequences.
These sci-fi-infused superpowers act as a metaphor for the couple to further postpone their arrival at adulthood, represented by the cat coming into their lives. Planning on having children in the future, the two see the cat as a parenting trial run, and their fear at failing makes them want to hold off the adoption date indefinitely.
This is a very strange and often frustrating plot that plays like a stream of consciousness inside these peoples’ panic-stricken psyches. It’s hard to follow at points, but it hits a raw emotional nerve.
All of the cutesy surrealism can’t hide the very real fear the two have of a life of grown-up monotony and duty to things outside themselves. Everyone feels this at one point or another in life, and with an ever-pessimistic eye, July amps up this anxiety throughout the film’s 90-minute run time.
July and Linklater play their parts with heartbreaking honesty. They portray both of their characters in a childlike light, making the sight of them squirm all the more painful.
It’s not July’s aim to be reassure anyone going through a similar crisis. All she wants to do is hold up a warped but uncomfortably magnified mirror to our daily lives. Maybe just knowing you’re not the only one going through growing pains is all the support we can get.
This is a love-it-or-hate-it type of film, but go into it with an open mind and you’ll find something to latch onto.
“The Future” is now available on DVD from Lionsgate Home Entertainment.