The Future


There’s a lot of talk of “inside” versus “outside” in Miranda July’s “The Future,” with the outside generally representing savagery and loneliness, and the inside supposedly denoting comfort and peace. But, as we soon learn in this beautifully layered meditation on 30-something growing pains, the inside isn’t so safe, either, and as these metaphorical dangers come to quiet blows, a bittersweet suggestion of how to best ride out change finds its way to the surface. You might not expect such poignancy from a film with a talking cat and a talking moon but, then, this is the latest from the woman behind “Me and You and Everyone We Know,” a movie that somehow made a dirty, potentially pedophilic exchange of keystrokes into something downright adorable. 

July is practically peerless in her ability to guide even the funkiest idiosyncrasies to a place of endearing and heartbreaking humanity. As she did in “Me and You,” the filmmaker stars as her own lead character, playing Sophie, a dancer and longtime girlfriend of Jason (a great Hamish Linklater). The decision to adopt an injured cat – who narrates the film, is voiced by July, and is shown only as a set of oversized paws – throws the couple into a tragicomic, time-conscious tailspin, with Sophie rebelling against their current life and Jason trying desperately to preserve it (he even takes a volunteer gig promoting sustainability). 

Take your pick of the many things the cat symbolizes (change, consequence, a child, time itself), then apply that same interpretational wonder to just about everything in this richly nuanced triumph, a model of thoughtful, artful indiedom. Detractors will dismiss July’s odder impulses and bouts of magical realism as random embellishment, but there’s nothing random about what it all amounts to: a sad, hopeful, swim-in-your-mind collection of scarily true feelings. 

Working from a perspective that seems both burdened and enlightened by the weight of life experience, July puts a lot of herself into the film, which is all the better. Hers is one of cinema’s more valuable voices, and “The Future” is one of 2011’s best films. 

The Future


Four reels out of four

In theaters now

Rental Recommendation

Jane Eyre


Available Tuesday

To this umpteenth adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s classic novel, director Cary Fukunaga brings the unexpected: an approach that’s both traditional and refreshingly up-to-date. Presenting a shadowy palette that’s one with his ominous mood, he also draws extraordinary performances from Mia Wasikowska as the lead heroine and Michael Fassbender as the mysterious Mr. Rochester. SPR

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