Originally published on January 24, 2011
Right off the bat, let me confess: I am a huge Miranda July fan. This is quite the confession for me, because I tend to pride myself on a certain level of cynicism. But there is something about July’s adorable, trusting, slightly off-kilter artistic vision that I can’t resist. Entering her website, for example, you come across a box that reads: “ENTER SECRET PASSWORD: you know the password, just clear your mind and look within. It will probably be the first word that you think of.” Wonderful.
Like July’s previous Sundance hit and Canne d’Or winner, Me, You, and Everyone We Know, her short story collection No One Belongs Here More Than You, and her interactive website “Learning to Love You More,” The Future combines cutesiness with abnormality in a way that allows us to tap into our own fears and hopes.
Where Me, You, and Everyone We Know played as a pretty straightforward indie comedy, The Future takes a darker, more surrealistic turn. Sophie (July) and Jason (Hamish Linklater) lead relatively comfortable lives until one day they find a stray cat with a hurt paw (voiced by July herself) and decide to take it in. Anticipating that their lives will completely change when they pick up their recovered cat from the shelter, the couple decides to live the next thirty days as if it is their last. Both want to finally live up to what they feel is their full potential and interact with the world in ways that do not involve a computer screen. It seems like a good idea, but, stepping out of their comfort zones, Sophie and Jason have to figure out how their relationship fits into their new lives. The Future challenges our own notions of comfort by pushing the boundaries of what we expect from July and what we should expect from ourselves.
While there are moments of weirdness that may turn some people off to July’s vision, the sentiments of the film feel very familiar. If you’ve ever felt stuck in time, as though your life is quickly falling away from you, The Future will strike a chord. If you’ve ever felt like you may have talents untapped, or that there are experiences waiting to be had if only you could pull yourself away from routine, you’ll understand Sophie and Jason. And if you’ve ever doubted the legitimacy of those same feelings, Miranda July can sympathize.