OAK CLIFF FILM FESTIVAL 2023 REVIEW! Molli and Max in the Future is a shining star in the sci-fi rom-com genre from writer/director Michael Lukk Litwak. For an indie film, it accomplishes great things both visually and from a storytelling standpoint.
As the title implies, our heroes are Molli (Zosia Mamet) and Max (Aristotle Athiras). While traveling along a hyperspace bypass, Molli’s space car runs Max off the “road.” After haggling over fault, Max insists Molli take him home to the ocean world, as we discover Max is half-human and half-fish. Molli, herself, is endowed with magic. Soon, the two hit it off, but before they are given a chance to become more than friends, Molli leaves to join a space cult and have sex with the demigod Moebius (Okieriete Onaodowan). Max is left devasted and alone.
Years later, Molli and Max meet in a cosmic coincidence in a space taxi. She is still embroiled in her sex cult, and he has become a celebrity in the sport of robot combat. As the years roll on, will Molli and Max ever confess their true feelings for one another before a giant black hole devours the universe?
Molli and Max in the Future is billed as a futuristic When Harry Met Sally. This is undoubtedly true, and it works. Mamet and Athiras have fantastic chemistry. Seeing them together, you instantly know why they can’t be together. Max is the quiet type who wants to fall in love and settle down. Molli is the free-spirited explorer who goes where she wants and says what she feels. They are so different, but they know one another precisely as friends.
“…will Molli and Max ever confess their true feelings for one another before a giant black hole devours the universe?”
In fact, in the second act, they use what is known as a pu-box (sp?), where their avatars engage in a relationship. By speeding up time, they can see if their relationship works out or not. It doesn’t. Knowing everything we know, I couldn’t help but root for the pair to get it on in this insane will-they-won’t-they relationship.
Let’s talk space stuff. This tells a very grounded love story, but the world that Litwak creates fits it like a glove. This world is so wacky, yet somehow the filmmaker never lets the space gimmick fly off the rails or overshadow the sweet romance about two friends afraid of falling in love in fear of breaking what they have.
Molli and Max in the Future is a grand achievement in indie sci-fi filmmaking. Litwak worked on all the special effects, many of which are practical models and scenes shot in the “Volume.” Space is a mere backdrop to a narrative that is mostly Molli and Max talking. This environment allows Mamet and Athiras to be engaged in an activity while talking.
Like the visual effects, there’s a bit of lore-building as well. This makes everything accessible to the audience like a space election being waged on a reality show. There’s also a civil war between humans and fish and Molli’s magical powers. There’s also the sex cult thing.
I highly recommend Molli and Max in the Future, particularly if you love romcoms. The space stuff is secondary to a powerful tale, insightful dialogue, and brilliantly developed characters. It’s the perfect nerdy date movie.
Molli and Max in the Future screened at the 2023 Oak Cliff Film Festival.
"…a grand achievement in indie sci-fi filmmaking."