The Future is Miranda July’s long-awaited second full-feature film which she once again directed, wrote and starred in. Her first film was the highly acclaimed Me and You and Everyone We Know (I adored it enough to give it a perfect 10 rating in my review) which was released 6 years ago. This whimsical film shares some of the same themes as her first film, both feature a 30-something character focusing on seizing moments in life, although is one tends to be more pessimistic than the former.
Sophie (Miranda July) is a dance teacher for children and Jason (Hamish Linklater) does tech support from home. They have been together for 4 years and as the film states, they are in the middle of the beginning of their relationship. They do not get out much as a couple and live rather boring and depressing lives. In an effort to change things up a bit they decide to adopt a cat.
The couple came to the conclusion that once they adopt the cat, someone will always have to be at home to look after it. They see the cat sort of like most people see a baby, that they will be settled down and have responsibilities once they have it. Since they have thirty days before their adopted cat can be taken home, they treat it as if their lives are over once that happens. They take it as an opportunity to do things that they have never done before, which can and ultimately does, change their lives forever.
Sophie sets a goal for herself to do a new dance every day for thirty days. She became so obsessed with looking up YouTube videos of people dancing, assumingly for inspiration, that she cancels her internet access. Jason vows to be more aware of his surrounds and take every opportunity given to him, even if that opportunity is an environmental solicitor that goes door to door selling trees.
The cat, appropriately named Paw-Paw, narrates to the audience (the voiceover is done by Miranda July) on how he can barely wait to be adopted by the couple. His anticipation is so high that he is counting every second that passes by only to realize time is moving by so slow. The cat fantasizes about being outside, where there is no hours to keep track of, where you can be free. Ultimately, I believe the film is about how we are often caged in life, about how we can be so wrapped up with useless things such as viral videos on the internet instead of enjoying life to the fullest.
As a result of their new outlook on life both Sophie and Jason end up meeting new people. Jason befriends a peculiar old gentleman he met on his door to door route. Sophie’s new friendship turns into an affair perhaps after realizing that she was not happy with her life. Or maybe it is just a part of her ambitious new life decisions. It could even be as simple as having 1,000 count bed sheets.
There are many similarities between her first film and this one. The Future begins with a voice-over, just like Me and You and Everyone We Know did. Both films involve young children who are very adult-like while the adults are often child-like. In both films she has conversations with herself portraying two different voices. Both have an odd sexual scene. They even have the same overall theme of living each day as it if were your last and that people have the power to stop time.
Of course The Future does have it’s differences. The number of supporting roles is much smaller so there is not much for subplots. Sophie feels like her best days are behind her while Christine from Me and You and Everyone We Know thinks that her best days are yet to come. The soundtrack in this did not jump out at me like it did in her other film. Change is not bad, in fact, I am glad this film does have it’s differences. Unfortunately, the changes were not all that good.
Sophie is not a very likeable character or one that you find yourself rooting for. The off-beat and quirky character at the beginning is not the same one you find at the end. Both characters are self-absorbed but Jason seems to be sympathetic of the two. I enjoyed their relationship, which can be best described as odd, as ones in real-life typically are. However, I felt the characters themselves were a little disappointing. The cat is who I empathized with the most.
I knew going into The Future that I would probably be slightly disappointed with such high and impossible expectations I had. Having those high of expectations is a trap that most people, including myself, fall into often times. But most people agree that this film is not as good as her first, I concur. It had flashes of brilliance but all said and done it was a bit underwhelming.
That being said, Miranda July has the rare talent of creating original independent films with her unique visions. There is no denying her artistic abilities; which is why I will still be highly anticipating her next film. Hopefully we will not have to wait 6 years this time because as we learned from Paw-Paw, waiting can be cruel.