ByTowne ByTowne Cinema
325 Rideau St. Ottawa K1N 5Y4
Info Line: (613) 789-FILM
New from the director of "Me And You And Everyone We Know"
To appreciate The Future, Miranda July’s ingeniously constructed wonder cabinet of a movie, you may first have to pass through a stage of mild annoyance or even something more intense. A recent profile in The New York Times Magazine depicted Ms. July – a quiet figure on the screen and a thoughtful, witty presence on the page – as an improbably polarizing filmmaker, as likely to be scorned for her supposed preciosity as celebrated for her ingenuity. And the first part of The Future seems, quite deliberately, to test the spectrum of audience response. Are you curious? Enchanted? Frustrated? All of the above?
The two main characters, Sophie and Jason, a Los Angeles couple played by Ms. July and Hamish Linklater, are sweet and sincere, but also maddeningly passive, and their tentative approach to their own lives might inspire equal measures of protectiveness and impatience. We first see them on the couch of their modest, bohemian apartment, each with a laptop, looking more like twins or a shaggy, bony, two-headed creature than like romantic cohabitants.
Though they are well into their 30s and measure the span of their relationship in years, they seem as shy and unworldly as children, passive-aggressively resisting the demands and enticements of adulthood. Sophie teaches dance classes for toddlers, Jason has a low-level tech job helping confused consumers troubleshoot over the phone, and the two of them, individually and as a pair, occasionally glance at a vague and receding horizon of ambition, artistic and otherwise.
The Future begins with narration supplied in the scratchy, high-pitched voice of a cat. This creature, a wounded, sickly stray is in an animal shelter, waiting for Jason and Sophie to adopt him. He represents their long-deferred acceptance of adult responsibility, and a chance to break out of the malaise of waiting around for something to happen. In the month before they take their new pet home, Jason and Sophie set out to make up for lost time. They quit their jobs, and Jason volunteers for an environmental organization, while Sophie sets out to record a series of dances that she hopes will bring her recognition on the internet.
Their forays into art and activism have mixed results, but The Future itself blossoms into something affecting and peculiar. In addition to the talking cat, there is a talking moon, a T-shirt that moves on its own and Jason’s sudden discovery of the power to stop time. These phenomena coexist with a more mundane story of betrayal and disappointment: a funny-sad relationship drama about love gone astray.
The magical, metaphorical strain in The Future is what makes it powerful, unsettling and strange, as well as charming. The everyday fears and frustrations that shadow us on our awkward trip through the life cycle often feel enormous, even cosmic, and Ms. July has the audacity to find images and situations that give form to those metaphysical inklings.
The complexity of The Future is contained in its title, which refers simultaneously to a terrifying abstraction – an unknowable territory bounded by death, eternity, the end of time – and to a concrete, trivial fact. What are you going to do next? It’s a huge, scary question, but the answer is usually to be small and specific. Use your imagination. Go see this movie.
– A.O. Scott, The New York Times
This web site is very useful, but the hard copy of the ByTowne guide still has its merits. People rely on it and love it. Plus, its calendar pages can be pulled out and posted on your fridge door, something that we still can't achieve with the web site. Get your copy today at many local stores, coffee shops and info centres around town!
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