Miranda July understands what quirky is, perhaps better than any other director/actor working today. She understands the type of awkward situations, odd relationships and minor behavioural tendencies that make a character unique, truly captivating her target audience…largely people who also consider themselves to be “quirky”.
In The Future, July has sculpted a bizarre lead character in her own image, who some will sincerely love for her cute and care-free behaviour. But in contrast with her much more likeable on-screen partner (played by newcomer Jason Linklater), others will end up disliking her selfish actions and overall lack of motivation.
The scenes on her own are more cringe-worthy than kooky (especially when she is recording herself dancing) and it feels like the only motivation behind her abnormal behaviour is to convince us she’s a free spirit.
Where July really shines (as both character and director) is in capturing the very personal exchanges between the two main characters – their on-screen chemistry seems more natural than most real-life couples.
In this sense, it’s the relationships within The Future and not the individual characters that make this film unique – whether it’s between the central couple, a young woman and a widow, a father and his daughter or an unlikely friendship between men in very different stages of their lives.
The entire story is narrated by a talking cat, which much like the dog in Beginners, seems more like a cheap novelty intended to charm grandparents and pet-owners than adding any real value to the story.
There are a couple of interesting social themes throughout the movie that catch you off guard. In particular, it reflects heavily on our generation’s dependency on the Internet and how much time is truly wasted as a result.
But the most fascinating aspect of The Future is when July jumps from simple social commentary to something in the realm of science fiction. And while some may regard it as nonsense, it helps you remember that you’re not watching the typicalHollywood rom-com. And that thought alone is refreshing.
July’s ambition as a director is definitely admirable. She has shaken up the indie rom-com formula with a range of original narrative devices and characters, but it often feels like she’s trying too hard to be different.
The Future is in selected cinemas from November 17, 2011.