Review by Nathan Samdahl (C)
In Miranda July's sophomore feature The Future, the director assembles an eccentric cast and story that is a mixed bag of successes and misfires. While brimming with creativity, The Future feels forced in many ways, trying to incorporate elements of magical realism and a collection of offbeat moments that prove more distracting than anything else.
For instance, the story revolves around struggling young couple Sophie (Miranda July) and her husband Jason (Hamish Linklater), who are trying to adopt a cat that is being held at an animal clinic while it heals from an injury. Throughout the film, the perspective cuts to the cat to provide deeper narration on its own plight and speak to the larger themes of the film.
However, the cat's voice (also performed by July) is so distracting and even creepy (I kept thinking of the female equivalent to Danny in The Shining) that every time the film switched to the animal I just wanted to fast forward. And based on the silence from the rest of the audience, my sentiments were felt by others.
It is devices like this that, despite their creativity, bog down a film.
The performances were also an issue for me. In particular, July delivers one of the most whispered, mumble core performances I've seen. Linklater unfortunately echoes her approach. Both characters seem to float through their own lives, not fully aware of the world around them and unwilling to confront the emotional challenges that threaten their relationship.
Every scene, particularly later on, felt like a test of endurance of who could speak the slowest and who could incorporate the most awkward pauses.
I usually love performances like these, but in this instance, without much emotional variance, the characters felt one note. Even when Sophie cheats on her husband out of the blue, very little emotion is shed. Why should we like her anymore? Being emotionally disconnected does not excuse that behavior.
The film does have some bright spots, most notably David Warshofsky, who is the most believable and grounded character of the group.
Despite my desire to like The Future and get involved with the characters, Miranda July did her best to halt audience enjoyment at every turn. I appreciate the creativity involved and understand the deeper themes at work, but unfortunately the sum of the pieces do not equal the whole here.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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