To say performance artist turned film director Miranda July is a bit on the weird side is a major understatement. To say that the quite captivating Ms. July is that most entertaining and most charming kind of weird that turns her work into the most delightfully unique form of cinema - even during those inevitably occasional moments of self-satisfied cutesiness that are sprinkled, albeit sparsely, throughout her otherwise quite amusing quasi-romantic films - is pretty much spot on.
With her first film, 2005's Me and You and Everyone We Know, Ms. July set her directorial standard as a maker of quirky, slightly off kilter comedies, underlined with a pervading sense of melancholia. With her long-awaited second film, The Future, she stakes her claim in that very same directorial standard, and creates another beautifully forlorn picture of love, loss, life and the inherent fear of all three. This time, as last, July plays the lead in her film. Then she was a cab driver/video artist - here she is a dance instructor/reluctant slacker. In both films, she has built a character that desires to live life to the proverbial fullest, while simultaneously being scared of living that very same life. In other words, a human being, a flawed, often irritating human being (and yes, she is meant to be a somewhat unlikable person), but a human being worth watching in anticipation of what will come next.
As far as the story of The Future goes, it is about a thirty-something couple (July and Hamish Linklater of TV's The New Adventures of Old Christine, playing essentially a version of his character on the aforementioned show, and with a head of curly locks rivaled only by July herself) who, like many young couples, are a bit self-absorbed and linked probably a bit too obsessively with all things internet (the first shot we get of the couple is of them sitting one opposite ends of a sofa, both with laptops they are engrossed in). Upon finding they may have to adopt a sick cat, and therefore give up their own lives (its a rather convoluted story as to why all this happens, so better you see the movie to find out), it sets in motion a series of seemingly non-related events, that end up changing the young couple's lives forever.
There are, of course, other things going on here - some of them of a possibly supernatural bent. Did I mention the talking cat? The warping of time and space? The talking cat? Yes, the film is indeed fun, and is indeed quite quirky, and of course Miranda July delivers it in that most delightfully unique way I spoke of in the opening salvo of this review, but the writer/director also gives her film a sense of emotionality (given raw intensity by both July and Linklater) that turns this quirky behaviour into a realistic look at relationships on the cusp of tragedy. It is quite impressive that Miranda July can manage this balance, but manage it she does. [10/04/11]