The Future (2011) ☆☆☆(3/4) : Their whimsy and uncertain future

“The Future” will definitely be one of the quirkiest movies I saw in this year, and, though it is only April, it will stay on or near the top of the list assigned to such films at the end of year. It features several moments of sheer whimsy to confound me and interest me; I watched them with the certain degrees of curiosity, and the movie turned out to be a lots more than fancy whimsy. It seems aimless at first, but it looks at its characters with warm understanding, and there is the sad poignancy generated from the strained relationship between two people who try to prepare themselves for the next stage of their life but find it more difficult than they thought.

The life of Jason(Hamish Linklater) and Sophie(Miranda July) may not be affluent, but they are happy and satisfied although there has not been much change in their life. Sophie teaches dance to the children in the community center(I do not think she was a professional dancer), and Jason works at their cozy home as a counselor technician on the phone. There is no kid between them, and I do not know whether they have friends or not, but they have a fun with each other’s oddities like young children playing house.

Well, they are about to have some change at their home. They decide to be more responsible than before as grown-ups, so they go to the center for abandoned animals, and they choose one sick cat which will likely die within a few years even at the best condition. Taking care of a sick pet takes lots of efforts, and that means Jason and Sophie really have to change their lifestyle a lot. They will not probably have free time between them as much as before.

Because the cat has to be at the center at least for a month before it is all right to be taken care of by them, Jason and Sophie has one good idea about their upcoming change. It is true that they have been pretty much free for a while, but why not live a far more freely as themselves for a month before wholly committing themselves to their cat for a long time? They immediately start their plan; Sophie quits her job and tries to make a YouTube clip every day with her dancing at the home. Jason also quits his job, and he chooses to work a solicitor selling trees from door to door.

In the ordinary reality, nothing much would happen, but this is a quirky film where something interesting keeps happening out of the coincidence, and soon Jason and Sophie meet interesting persons respectively. After visiting several houses without any significant results, Jason arrives at the house where one resourceful old man(Joe Putterlick) lives. This old guy is good at fixing many things, and Jason eventually buys a fixed hair drier for Sophie, rather than selling him the trees. He also gets some wisdom about the relationship from the old man, who had lived with his deceased wife for a long time and knows one or two things about how the relationship develops into the next stage – or gets terminated instead.

Meanwhile, Sophie also has the interesting time of her own. In another coincidence, while frustrated about the lack of her creativity, she happens to get acquainted with one middle-aged guy(David Warshofsky) through one phone call. She soon visits his home, where he lives alone with his daughter(she keeps digging a hole at the backyard for another whimsical reason to be revealed later). When they are together at the living room, you can see what will eventually happen, but the director/writer/lead actress Miranda July handles this uncomfortable situation in a tactful and sensitive way. After all, he is not a bad man, and Sophie probably understands his need.

Because of what happened between him and Sophie, the relationship between Sophie and Jason becomes rocky, and the movie goes into a weirder moment when Jason is able to stop the current of the time when Sophie is on the verge of telling the truth which may hurt the bond between them. While the time is stopped, Jason even talks with the moon high above the sky. It is surely bizarre, but what do you possibly expect from the movie whose narrator is their sick cat? Shown only with its cute paws(one of them is bandaged), it talks to us about its hope and expectation to us in the manipulated voice of Miranda July. This sounds silly, but it is not as silly as you think, and the cat’s narration eventually leads to one sad moment later in the story.

Miranda July, who is also well-known as the performance artist with established career, made a nice impression on me and others through her first film “Me and You and Everyone We Know”(2005). Like “The Future”, that movie made me both confounded and curious with various odd, funny scenes to be remembered when I saw it in 2007. I liked it though I did not think I completely understood it, but, when I saw it again later with DVD, I found it more admirable and lovable than before. I especially love the warm hilarity resulted from the interaction between two characters who come to face each other for the first time after the series of their very creative dirty chats on Internet.

I am afraid I am hopelessly too inarticulate to describe the offbeat charm of “The Future”. While this second work from Miranda July is relatively less impressive than her previous work, “The Future” certainly confirms July again as the interesting director with her own distinctive style. It may be too quirky for your taste, but I liked how it delightfully and effortlessly moves between humor and sadness with its quirky heart put in the right place. You may also like it, too, perhaps, if you think a talking cat is not too strange.

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