Future Weather attempts to do more than just tell a standard coming of age story, but in the end that is all that it achieves.
Future Weather is an indie drama from first feature director Jenny Deller, about a passionate thirteen-year-old girl who must learn to survive on her own when her mother abandons her. The film is backed with a strong female cast who do their best to impress despite a script that makes it difficult to do so. There were times when this coming of age story went a little too far to get its message of global warming awareness across. As a result, Future Weather felt at times as if watching a public service announcement commercial instead of a feature film.
Lauduree (Perla Haney-Jardine) is a young teenager who is very passionate about the environment and spends most of her free time conducting studies in the fields surround her home. While her school life is just fine, she excels in science and presumably others, her home life is not such a pretty picture. Her mother Tanya (Marin Ireland) is a train wreck and decides to spontaneously flea to California to pursue her dream of being a Hollywood make-up artist. All that remains for Lauduree is an empty house along with the fifty dollars that was left behind with a note that says to call her grandma to come take care of her.
Instead of alerting her grandmother that her mother has abandoned her, Lauduree continues to go to school and do her research as normal. It is not that the thirteen-year-old does not like her grandmother, she is just so attached to her research that she does not want to leave behind six months of collected data. Besides, the science classroom has always been where she felt at home and the teacher Ms. Markovi (Lilli Taylor) is more mother-like than her real mother ever was. But an incident involving the cops ends up unwillingly forcing her grandmother into her life.
The biggest issue found in Future Weather is how the film pushed its conservation message into as many scenes as possible, making it seem more about saving the environment than about its characters. This would be fine if it were a documentary instead of a narrative feature film. Being that Future Weather was partly financed with a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation-a foundation that supports scientific research to improve the quality of life-was likely the reason for overstating its message.
One quality that stood out to me the most in the film was the cinematography. Even when the dialog in a scene felt too carefully constructed – which it often was – the entire scene would not go to waste because of the superb camera work on display. Like the main character, the cinematography also seemed to feel more at home in nature. The small details that Future Weather was able to capture were the most memorable, like an ant crawling off the tip of a finger into its ant hill and the underwater mussel hunting sequences.
Ultimately, it is the script makes the story too implausible at times and too environmentally preachy at others. Future Weather’s attempt at plucking emotional strings felt seriously out of tune. When the mother leaves her daughter it is mostly disappointment that is felt, some relief, but hardly any sadness – the daughter seems to concur. Future Weather attempts to do more than just tell a standard coming of age story, but in the end that is all that it achieves.