Wednesday, 9 October 2013

The Future review: This film gave me an unwelcome epiphany

I'll admit it. I'd be the first person to sit and watch a solipistic film about some weirdo's existential malaise, and I'd probably enjoy it too. I love watching arty films where the protagonist battles out with the world, the struggles faced in society, and the difficulties of relationships. Sometimes it is worth a bit of brevity, intellectualism and, dare I say it, artistic snobbery in order to make a film that would teach you something about yourself.

Miranda July's 2011 film The Future definately taught me something. Let's leave my epiphany to the end though.

Miranda July is maybe best known as a "kooky" indie filmmaker nowadays, with The Future and Me and You and Everyone We Know under her belt now, but she's also known as a fiction writer and her foremost profession, a performance artist. Me and You and Everyone We Know is a pretty good film, if still consciously hipster.

The Future focus on a couple in their mid-thirties, played by July and Hamish Linklater. After rescuing an injured cat (called Paw-Paw) they decide to adopt it. Paw-Paw's life span is estimated to be between six months and five years. Five years! My God! That would make them nearly fourty when Paw-Paw finally snuffs it. And then thats only ten years to fifty! Well, they might as well be dead by then. Through their histrionic deductions, and with only a month left before they pick up Paw-Paw, they decide they have to get out of their rut and live a life worth living.

And this is where the film becomes an expidient of smugness.

The first thing they do is quit their jobs. Not look for new ones, they just outright quit their jobs. Now for me this was an unsavoury hysterical reation that only stupid or financially secure people make. They have a flat full of second hand stuff, but both own Apple Mac's, so I'm guessing they are both stupid. And then I lose faith in this film. Linklater's character Jason quits his job to become a volunteer tree-sales-man (Save the environment!), and July's character Sophie quits her job as a bored children's dance teacher to be a bored wannabe YouTube dancer. She kind of shoots herself in the foot with this though when she cancels their internet for the month, and they both sit over their Mac's patheticly, trying to think of something good to Google before their wi-fi goes.

They don't even really do anything to make theirs or anyone else's lives better. Jason buys Sophie a 1960's hairdryer off an old man, and then realises that all the cool second hand furniture he's accumilated is near identical to the old mans. Exciting stuff, right? At least July has the integrity to imply that that fetishisation of "vintage" stuff is only cool out of context.

Sophie, meanwhile, becomes even more bored and starts phoning up the father and illustrator of a little girls portrait that Jason buys out of sympathy. She then starts a relationship with him. This part of the film I had a problem with. This affair is completely stomach churning because you know its useless. The scene where they have sex for the first time is cringe worthy, mainly because it feels inauthentic to the film to have Sophie bent over a sofa. But maybe she wants that thrill of being perceived as sluttish. Sophie knows her new relationship is useless, as I don't think she has any interest in living in a big house with a young step-daughter. Her new partner seems enamoured with his young mistress, but promptly dumps her when he see's her dancing around in an over-sized t-shirt (incidently the best part of the film).

When her guilt finally catches up with her and she starts to tell Jason, he stops her, stops time as well, in order to have a conversation with the Moon about his life. He then starts to believe that he can control the tides. Needless to say, they forget about Paw-Paw until its too late.

This film left me with such a bad taste in my mouth. The characters have a fatalistic tendicy towards magical thinking, where they think that only they hold some kind of mystical power that can change their universe. They're the same kind of lamentable people who's pension plan is them winning the lottery. They believe that they can change their whole lives in just one month, make irrational decisions, and then moan when it all goes wrong. Although I appreciate that Miranda July may be criticising this whole thought pattern, the hipster leanings of this film leave these kinds of actions as almost idealistic, making it seem almost cool to be this pathetic.

When I was younger this kind of film might of seemed impressive to me, despite its sad storyline. The apartment, July's kookiness, the two protagonists innate idealism. After watching this though, these characters, this whole film and everything it is, just made me feel very uncomfortable. I'm in a low-paid job I hate but of which I cannot afford to quit. I buy cheap stuff not because it's cool but because it's what I can afford. The ways in which these's characters seemingly sorted out lives so quickly dissintigrated somewhat terrified me. They see themselves as the victims of time itself, rushing on without them, where's really it is their own inability to look at themselves properly thats holding them back. They are still trying to live out some kind of perfect idea of themselves that is compeletly unattainable anymore.

It's that bit that shocked me.

If you want a rating I'll give you one. All in all the film is slow, boring and very self-conscious. Despite my personal greivences with the film, it still stands as one of the most irritating films I've seen in a while. Sorry, Miranda July, but I really hope your next film is better.


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