September 11, 2011

MOVIES: The Future (Miranda July, 2011)

And speaking of polarizing: Miranda July's first film, Me and You and Everyone We Know, was sharply divisive; some adored its quirky look at unusual emotional relationships, and some thought it was too precious and twee for its own good. I don't think The Future is going to change many minds either way.

The movie stars July and Hamish Linklater as Sophie and Jason, who've been living together for four years. They've recently rescued a sick homeless cat, and have decided to adopt it, but they have to leave Paw Paw at the shelter for a month while it recovers from its most serious illness.

Neither Sophie nor Jason has ever made a serious commitment to anything -- their relationship is so passionless that we're more than halfway into the movie before they're finally defined as something other than brother and sister -- and the realization that they're a month away from the first real responsibility of their lives is an emotional shock, and The Future follows them through what they see as their last 30 days of freedom.

It's a sign of their refusal to commit, even to one another, that their panic doesn't bring them together. Each flies off in their own direction, quitting their job and diving into new projects that they think will be more emotionally fulfilling (and neither of them doing very well at their new task).

One of the more divisive elements in the movie will surely be the occasional bits of voice-over narration from Paw Paw (voice provided by July), who provides philosophical perspective on the life of a street cat who's finally on the verge of finding a home. And while those scenes are terribly twee, there are enough lovely moments in the movie to make up for it. July's dialogue isn't naturalistic, exactly, but she's got a great gift for finding actors who can deliver it as if it were, and there are striking images throughout -- a small girl digging a deep hole in the lawn for no apparent reason, or Jason standing on the beach trying to undo something he's done without knowing how he did it in the first place.

July and Linklater are a charming couple, with their matching unruly mops of hair and their identical emotional states, which are so relaxed and casual as to border on the comatose. The Future is going to drive a lot of people up the wall, but I think it's worth seeing; certainly fans of Me and You won't want to miss it.

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