The Future

Dying cats, skipping time, and talking moons come together in new indie flick The Future, reviewed by WILL STINSON.

cats Film film review hamish linklater independent movie Indie miranda july surreal the future

Directed by Miranda July

[rating: 3/5]

The Future is a surreal and calmly distressing narrative of the pre-life crisis from actor, writer, and director Miranda July. 

When a couple decide to adopt a stray cat, their perspective on life and what the future entails changes spectacularly – literally altering the course of time and space. Narrated by a cat, incorporating the halting and skipping of time, and a talking moon, The Future is daintily beguiling. And yet there is still room in which Miranda July could have explored the characters further.

Sophie and Jason, a content couple in their mid-30s, must wait 30 days until they can adopt Paw Paw. They are told that, with love and care, Paw Paw could live for up to five years. At 35, they realise that this cat will bring them through to 40, which they feel fades straight to 50. After that, what is there left to live for apart from each other?

Dying cats, skipping time, and talking moons: The Future

Born from their own pessimistic reasoning, the couple realise that they have only one month to actually do something meaningful and fulfilling with their lives. Sophie chooses to do something she has been building up to do for 15 years; 30 dances in 30 days, which she intends to broadcast on YouTube. Jason, on the other hand, is a lost man in a world that simply doesn’t care. Volunteering to walk the streets of Los Angeles, Jason goes door to door attempting to persuade people to take an interest in global warming. As both Jason and Sophie’s endeavours fall on deaf ears, they begin to realise that nobody cares what they do or where their lives are going except themselves.

Talking about the failure of their goals, the couple cope with their various shortcomings in different ways. Jason projects himself onto Sophie, whilst trying to find solace in the stories an old man regales him with. Meanwhile, Sophie projects herself onto a stranger, causing Jason to literally lock himself in time and space, unable to escape.

The cinematography is pretty, a feature that works well to portray the tenderness of the steady love that flows disjointedly between Sophie and Jason. However, in the second half there is an aspect of The Future that I can’t put my finger. Something uncomfortably disturbing is going on. Some scenes which are surely metaphorical are simply stressful to watch. A little girl digs a hole in her garden, and at her fathers’ insistence sleeps in it; Jason’s t-shirt slowly drags itself towards Sophie as her life falls into turmoil; bizarrely abusive yet sensual love scenes depict female submission. Kitsch camerawork for these scenes makes them feel odd, out of place, and unneeded.

And herein lays the problem: July’s directorial concepts grind against the cinematography, causing a toe-curling and oddly distressing climax to what I thought would be an eccentric indie love story. Some stunning images, but an at times self-indulgent July attempts to steal the show, when the real star should have been Jason.

An ambitious concept, The Future is a challenge to love.