Sometimes you can get the impression that Hollywood is all there is to American cinema. But the indie scene is larger than you think, and one prominent current name is Miranda July, who’s doing bizarre and awkward stuff that makes you think of Hal Hartley and Adrienne Shelly.
In The Future (which, a bit sadly, is not a science fiction movie but a drama), we witness the dissolving relationship of Jason and Sophie, partly through the thoughts of a wild cat with an injured paw, who’s waiting, and waiting, and waiting, at an animal shelter for the couple to come pick it up.
Jason (a work-from-home IT technician) and Sophie (a dance teacher) seem like an immensely well-matched pair, but perhaps the problem is that they are too similar – more like siblings. They share a great rapport, but they also keep each other in a kind of neurotic immaturity which doesn’t allow Sophie to evolve. She has a wild streak; like a cat she wants to be out of doors even though she has almost resigned herself to the indoor life that Jason is addicted to. So at one point she strikes up a relationship with an older man, and gradually leaves Jason behind.
The cat at the animal shelter symbolizes Sophie’s feeling of being trapped in her dead-end relationship with Jason, and it dies on the day before they were scehduled to pick it up. Both Sophie and Jason, who are no longer together at that point, show up to pick it up, but too late. That action represents their last effort to reach out to each other, but finding that their love cannot be salvaged.
The movie contains some very weird scenes. You see, Jason can stop time. It’s his way of coping with things he can’t handle. When Sophie leaves him, he lives in a state of stopped time for several days, having conversations with the moon. He even goes to the beach to help the moon control the tides.
Meanwhile, things are even stranger for Sophie. At her new boyfriend’s place, she is haunted by a creeping yellow t-shirt (Jason’s, I’m guessing) which, in the movie’s most bizarre scene, she ends up crawling into and, perhaps, fighting, as (again, I’m guessing) a symbolic way of taking her leave of Jason.
The plot works well, and although it starts out kinda slow, I found myself quickly caught up in the narrative. The first and very primal sexual encounter between Sophie and her new guy, Marshall, is the most powerful and memorable scene in the movie, despite its brevity.
I checked some of the reviews at IMDb.com to see what other people thought of the movie. Some get it, but a segment of the reviewers find the movie quite awful. This is a shame, because I thought this was overall a very good movie with a consistent style, an important message about a female protagonist’s personal development, and a fairly complex symbolism that has managed to throw a lot of the more simple-minded members of the audience for a loop.
There is no doubt in my mind that this movie will outlive its critics.
Director: Miranda July
Cast: Miranda July, Hamish Linklater, David Warshofsky, and others.
Runtime: 87 min.