28 Jul
Screenshot: A hipster time travel movie with a twist

UPDATE: Miranda July’s second film The Future opens nationwide tomorrow, July 29, so we’re re-posting The Elf’s review plus adding a deleted scene below.

It has been about six years since Miranda July’s first feature, Me and You and Everyone We Know, and fans of that oddball love story have been twiddling their thumbs waiting to see what she’d do next at the multiplex. Or, actually, the indieplex. July comes from the oh-so-offbeat world of performance art so it’s no wonder her first film had scenes where she made her feet talk to each other, or scenes where the male lead lights his arm on fire in a bizarre attempt to impress his kids.

This time around, forlorn boyfriend Jason (Hamish Linklater) has the ability to stop time with his mind (remember this ain’t X-Men, these people live in Los Angeles, wear super hipster clothing, and eat Mexican take-out so superpowers aren’t really par for the course in their lives). Equally forlorn girlfriend Sophie, played by July, hopes to make a series of performance-arty dance numbers with the goal of becoming a YouTube sensation. Sophie and Jason are pale, skinny, brooding, isolated and — yes — quirky as hell. Imagine a hipster time travel flick and you have The Future.

A deleted scene from Miranda July’s The Future below (to get a taste of the quirkiness), plus hit the Jump to continue reading The Elf’s review of the film…

Miranda July: The Future on Nowness.com.

Miranda July: The Future on Nowness.com.

“Monotone hipsters in crisis won’t go down in history as a major world phenomenon…”

What sets off all this brooding time travel is a cat named Paw-Paw. Realizing they’ve been together four years and that they’re “ready” for a next step, Jason and Sophie agree to adopt a stray cat they found in a box. Paw-Paw only has about six months to live, so that factoid lessens their fear just a little bit. Still, for these two aimless thirty-somethings, adopting a cat for six months is as daunting as getting hitched, giving birth to triplets and buying a home all on the same day.

When they find out that they can’t take Paw-Paw home for thirty days (when his injured leg heals) they decide to shake up their lives and get out of their rut — aka their hipster existential crisis. They both quit their dead-end jobs (what recession?) and set off on a path to finally making something of themselves and their lives. All the while Paw-Paw pops in and out of the story with some very sweet, soulful narration (yes, Paw-Paw talks) about his lonely life on the streets. As Sophie and Jason mumble their way through the movie, Paw-Paw emerges as the most interesting, sympathetic character in the story. I’d love to see a show just about Paw-Paw.

I’m not saying The Future isn’t worth seeing, but it is precious, and empathizing with an aimless Los Angeles hipster couple that quit their jobs and mumble through life can be a little trying at times. When Jason and Sophie’s relationship starts to unravel, it’s not so much these two characters that prove interesting and sympathetic — it’s the random characters orbiting their world that hold your attention. And Paw-Paw. Linklater is solid as Jason, but The Future would have benefited if July had cast a male opposite herself who had a different kind of on screen energy (like John Hawkes in Me and You and Everyone We Know, who complimented July’s subdued style with a more piercing kind of energy). She’s such a low talker and so deliberate in her slow movements, and with a boyfriend who mirrors that slacker energy their scenes sometimes risk becoming a Lunesta-fest.

Still, The Future sticks. I found myself awake at 3 a.m. after seeing it, thinking about the questions of space, time, love and the universe that July stealthily weaves into her story. Like a lot of her performance art, my first instinct is to get annoyed and call it pretentious, but in the end it’s touching. July has a special gift when it comes to casting child actors and getting super natural (not supernatural, people) performances out of them. That’s the thing about Miranda July herself — she stays just on this side of pretentious because her work seems to come from a place of pure, childlike wonder rather than from a place of “look at me I’m naked and smearing chocolate on my body!” Her films definitely aren’t for everyone and yes, monotone hipsters in crisis won’t go down in history as a major world phenomenon, but with all the sequels, prequels and branded entertainment bullying themselves into theaters, we’re lucky to have films like this: unique, odd, and bold enough to risk pissing you off. And making you think.

The Future premiered at Sundance this January, screens at the Los Angeles Film Festival June 24 and 25 and opens in limited release on July 29.

Follow The Elf on Twitter @TheElf26


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