You know how, when you’re trying to describe to a friend a movie like (500) Days of Summer, and you’re like, “It’s got this great Hall and Oates post-coital musical number, there’s a meet cute in the elevator, and the couple frolics lovingly in an IKEA.” And then you think about what you’re saying and you’re like, “But it’s much better than it sounds.” Miranda July’s The Future is the exact opposite: There’s a narrating cat, a dude who can stop time, a dancing shirt, and a moon that gives marital advice and it’s exactly what it sounds like. But if you love Miranda July, it’s what you expect and what you’re craving. If you don’t know Miranda July, if you haven’t been introduced to Me and You and Everyone You Know, then you’re probably just not the type of person that gravitates toward Miranda July’s work, and you probably won’t care for The Future. Actually, you’ll probably hate it. The woman makes movies so precious that they tickle even my gag reflex. But they’re engaging, and when you’re not rolling your eyes at how twee they are, there’s a certain wise beauty in her movies that sneak up on you.
The Future is one eccentric goddamn movie. And I swear to God, if Miranda July spoke in a normal speech pattern, it’d have been half as long. But there’s something absorbing about those pauses, like she’s really imparting her message in between the words. In The Future, she plays Sophie, one half of a couple also featuring Jason (Hamish Linklater), who looks like the kind of guy you’d expect Miranda July to date, which is to say, the male version of her. They’re stuck in life’s rut, annoyed with the monotony, and afraid the future is about to swallow them into old age. So, they adopt a sickly cat (the same cat that narrates the movie), but they can’t retrieve it from the vet for a month. They figure that, once the cat moves in with them, the rest of their lives will fall into a predictable pattern, so they give themselves a month to find their places in the world. They quit their jobs, unhook the Internet, and wait for life to find them.
It eventually does. For Jason, who finds work selling trees door to door for an environmental organization, he finds an old man who gives him 60 years of marital advice, which brings him spiritually closer to Sophie. Unfortunately for Jason, life finds Sophie in the form of a sleazy man who wears a gold necklace. And so begins one freakishly weird fucking love affair, that kicks off with Sophie humping the corner of a couch.
The Future straddles the line precariously between fanciful narrative and experimental film, but it is transfixing. You may ask find yourself asking questions like, “What the fuck is this lady dancing around inside a shirt she named shirty shirt,” but it still has the hypnotic power to win you over. If you’re into Miranda July, that is. But if none of the above sounds at all fascinating to you, then trust me, experiencing it won’t change your mind. But it may make you hurl.