The Future is the second feature film directed by Miranda July, best known for Me and You and Everybody We Know (2005). While the latter was a popular and well received indie film, The Future is even more offbeat and challenging to mainstream viewers. Nevertheless, it’s well worth watching if you can appreciate movies that are non-linear and that cross boundaries when it comes to genre.
The Future is kind of hybrid drama, comedy and fantasy. You know it’s going to be something offbeat when it starts off being narrated by a cat. This cat, who is ill and may not live much longer, is scheduled to be adopted by Jason and Sophie, a couple in their thirties who are somewhere in between hipsters and slackers.
There’s not too much of a plot here. Fans of Jim Jarmusch’s Stranger Than Paradise (1984) may appreciate the scenes of apparently pointless dialog and inaction -though the style of this film is quite different overall. I actually admire movies like this one and Stranger Than Paradise, though, where the characters are allowed to exist in a state of existentialist aimlessness.
Both Jason and Sophie quit their jobs. Sophie drifts into an affair with an older man for no apparent reason. Jason meanwhile, begins volunteering for an environmentalist group that makes him go door to door selling trees. There’s a kind of randomness to it all. At the same time, like Me and You and Everyone We Know, there’s an underlying theme of how important and yet tenuous connections between people are in today’s world.
To make things more complicated and bizarre, Jason apparently has the ability to stop time. This is where the fantasy or paranormal enters into the mix, and where some viewers might lose patience. For there’s no real attempt to weave this into the story in a logical manner.
If you watch this film on Netflix, as I did, I suggest you don’t even bother to read the customer reviews. Netflix viewers are notoriously mainstream and conservative, and have little patience for oddball indie movies. They will mercilessly savage any script that dares thumb its nose at cinematic conventions (not all the reviewers, to be fair, but a sizable percentage).
Overall, The Future succeeds at doing something that the better quirky offbeat films manage to do -get you to take a step back from ordinary life and society and realize that the normal and everyday aren’t necessarily all there is and that there may be other, more interesting alternatives.