The Future

[12a]

United States 2011, 91 mins
Director: Miranda July
Starring: Hamish Linklater, Miranda July

THE FUTURE will likely be the only film you'll see this year narrated by an injured stray cat, a clear indication that we are entering the delightfully idiosyncratic world view of Miranda July.

In her debut feature (ME AND YOU AND EVERYONE WE KNOW) and her short stories alike, she has shown her fascination with offbeat, stranded individuals and their efforts to connect with each other, a thread she extends here to look at whether and how love can endure.

July herself plays Sophie, a children's dance teacher with modest aspirations toward self-expression, living with Jason (Hamish Linklater), her boyfriend of five years. They're a flaky, geeky and low-achieving pair, and theirs is a modern romance: they share a sofa but talk via their laptops, and have so far avoided any responsibilities or commitments.

As they approach their forties, nagging anxiety and insecurity about the future prompt some decidedly odd behaviour. With a plot that consistently confounds expectations, this bittersweet tale shows July's ability to create a distinctive, off-kilter milieu, and to deliver consistently surprising and amusing dialogue. She does both with aplomb and sincerity, helped by her own and Linklater's engagingly awkward performances, nicely underscored by music from Jon Brion, no stranger to quirkiness himself.

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