Let it never be said that Miranda July is wanting for ideas. Talking cats, time jumps, stop motion t-shirts, dance routines… THE FUTURE has all of these, and more. And if the opening salvo of a scratchy voiced cat turns you off of this movie, I feel bad for you. Because July doesn’t sit back and rely on these self-consciously quirky ideas (and no, they don’t all work) to carry the film, she uses them to flesh out a heartfelt story about even more themes.
There have been movies about mistakes made in relationships, the pondering of missed opportunities, getting old, being alone, the panic of commitment. There have been movies that were about all of these things at once. But July has found a way to bring life to these worn theme with inspired storytelling… and not filling in the blanks for her audience. But while the characters may be frustrating with their self-consciously quirky attempts to shake themselves back to existence, there’s real truth here. Who hasn’t imagined themselves as doomed to mediocrity, and done something completely arbitrary to return to excitement? And more importantly, what ISN’T arbitrary?
July is fully aware of these questions, fully aware that these questions often lead to more questions, and is smart enough to know that those questions are in fact the answers to themselves. Once that is understood, it’s hard to see how this story could have been told in any other way. A detractor of July and her films might use the word “unique” to describe her method, but I can’t think of a better word to praise her with.