Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Film Review: The Future

I'd originally written this piece for Strathclyde University's Fusion student radio station, however I think it's also relevant here. 

Any film which features an injured feral cat and the moon as key narrators will fall firmly within the “indie” genre, and “The Future” is no different. Written, directed and starring Miranda July, the film premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival and has sprung to widespread critical acclaim both in the USA and Europe, where it was nominated for the Golden Bear award at the Berlin International Film Festival. Film buffs can now catch a glimpse of “The Future” at the GFT.

The film follows the lives of Sophie (July) and Jason (Hamish Linklater, American-with-Scottish-roots being the grandson of SNP founder Eric Linklater) as they plod through their mid-30s. Both have low-paid jobs - Sophie is a kids’ dance teacher and Jason works from home doing tech-support - and the film does an excellent job of portraying them as a couple that isn’t really going anywhere. They don’t achieve particularly much; their studio flat is dog-eared and permanently untidy; and they both dress in a sort of unkempt way that’s a few degrees off Urban Outfitters. The only remarkable thing about Sophie and Jason is their stagnancy.

The couple’s foundations are shaken with the adoption of an injured stray cat, named Paw Paw, which takes on a narrative role. The couple agree to adopt the cat on the basis that it’s only likely to live for 6 months - but are later told Paw Paw could hang on for 5 years. With a one-month period before taking custody of the recuperating cat, Sophie and Jason are jolted out of their unremarkable, repetitive lifestyle and into action, realising the impact the adoption will have on their current freedoms.

The film gets a bit weird about here, as the couple explore living life to the full. Sophie has the most bizarre relationship, cheating on Jason with a middle-aged surburbanite (played to perfection by David Warshofsky, veteran of Face/Off). Jason realises he can alter the course of time and space. Pretty standard stuff for an “indie” film. 

Where “The Future” really scores is in the portrayal of lives that are going nowhere, and the dangers of getting overly familiar with a current situation. At one point in the movie, Jason forlornly declares that “I always wanted to be a world leader” - you sense that with a bit more vim and motivation - whilst not becoming the next Obama - he could be doing a great more than tech-support. In conclusion, “The Future” is an excellent portrayal of a stagnant “middle America”, with enough quirky plot features to hold your intrigue, if not your interest.