I operate largely based on feelings and intuition, not on thought or logic, so when I really like something it can be hard for me to talk (or write) about it. I want to tell you guys about The Future in a really smart, insightful way, maybe throw in a few jokes, use a metaphor that makes you say, “Damn, girl, this sounds like a great movie.” But instead all I can tell you is that this movie was just kind of there, waiting for me, when I needed it. When I was feeling really down and confused, it hit me like a punch in the stomach, leaving me kind of nauseated but also just exhilarated.
Maybe you don’t like Miranda July, and that’s fine, I guess. I certainly can’t make you like someone or something, but I can tell you what I like about her. All of her work, be it film, prose, or otherwise, has an emotional vulnerability that’s so complete it’s shocking. Rarely have I seen a writer/performer/director be so open and unafraid when talking about emotions. People tend to apply the word “brave” to art when there’s violence or ugliness or maybe just whatever the hell it was Charlotte Gainsbourg and Willem Dafoe were doing in Antichrist. When I think of brave filmmaking, though, I think of Miranda July, who isn’t afraid to handle the slippery, squirmy things like feelings. The kinds of things we’re, if we’re honest with ourselves, usually trying to get away from, not confront. But that’s exactly what she does. She puts relationships, feelings, emotions, and connections front and center, as if they’re the only things that matter. And, really, aren’t they?
Her previous film, Me and You and Everyone We Know was, to me, primarily about people trying to make connections and the problems that keep them from doing so. This film was more about people trying to figure out what their lives are supposed to mean. The Future is about getting to a certain age and realizing that, even though you thought you’d have things figured out by now, you don’t. It’s about trying to make a change and a difference by taking an action, any action. It’s about how taking the wrong action can lead you somewhere you never intended to be, a place where you’re not even sure who you are anymore, where you’re standing on a suburban street in a nightgown and wondering what, exactly, it is that you’re supposed to do all day. It’s an amazingly affecting film, and maybe you’ll get something completely different out of it! Even though it follows a fairly traditional narrative structure, I think a lot of it is open to interpretation.
It’s worth noting that the trailer doesn’t necessarily represent the movie very well. That’s no surprise, as I’m pretty sure a movie trailer has never done anyone any favors (aside from Sofia Coppola, who always manages to have perfect trailers). That talking cat, for example? A very small part of the film. In fact, I didn’t even remember it until I watched the trailer again. Also, the trailer makes the whole film seem a little cutesy, which couldn’t be further from the truth.
This is, to be very clear, an upsetting movie, one that is not in the least bit comforting (as Me and You and Everyone We Know was). But it’s honest about the important things, those parts of our lives that seem so monumental but ultimately become the mundane scraps we piece together to make our days, weeks, years, and lives.
If you want to hear Miranda July herself talk about the movie and her creative process, Meet the Filmmaker has a really delightful interview with her in which she discusses the film and her creative process.
Also worth noting: this may seem shallow, but Hamish Linklater gets better looking the longer you watch him. At first you will think, “This is an okay guy,” but by the end you will be thinking, “Okay, I get it. Attractive.” You’ll have to figure this one out for yourself.