Posted May 5, 2013 by William Dunmyer in Avant-Garde

The Future: One of Many Under-Rated Films From 2011

Two thousand thirteen has so far been disappointing when it comes to avant-garde film. But there’s no reason to give up on the genre. In recent years there have been many challenging films that got little to no attention and would make great home viewing in 2013.

Case in point: Miranda July’s “The Future,” which received great reviews when it was released in 2011 but didn’t find much of an audience and was completely forgotten during awards season. Below is the original Tour de Force review, without a single word changed.


Originally published July 2011

“The Future” is a remarkable little film from the highly unique writer/ director/ actor Miranda July. By coincidence, July’s husband, Mike Mills, also has a top-notch movie in current release: “Beginners,” starring Ewan McGregor and Christopher Plummer.

It’s official: Indie film has a new power couple.

The central narrative of “The Future” concerns the break-up of a relationship. July plays the woman; Hamish Linklater plays the man. But what really makes the film special are the sub-themes, which are woven in exquisitely. The editing of “The Future” is masterful.

One sub-theme involves the Linklater character, who has occasional visits with an old man. Initially, one thinks that this is just a depiction of a charming cross-generational friendship. But gradually it appears that this old man might be the Linklater character 40 years in the future. Is he visiting someone or catching glimpses of his own future?

This sweet old man also appears in voice-over as a sort of guardian angel helping the Linklater character learn to control his gift for stopping time. The stoppage of time, which is not treated completely literally, brings a nice touch of science fiction to the film. It reminded me of another indie film in current release, “Another Earth” (also highly worth seeing), which has a much more pronounced element of science fiction.

Another sub-theme concerns an injured stray cat that the couple finds and brings to a clinic. July tries to bring us into the mind of the cat by letting us hear the kinds of things it might be thinking. July herself delivers the interior monologue of the cat with the use of a voice-distortion program.

Especially heart-breaking are the passages when the cat expresses his near-constant survival terror living outdoors. When July and Linklater visit him in the clinic, he purrs for the first time in his life and tells us what this feels like.

I won’t reveal what happens to the cat, but I’ll just say that July pulls no punches. The brutal life experience of this cat gives the film a bracing and realistic edge. July may warmly poke fun at her characters’ foibles (she is a goofball comedienne par excellence), but she also doesn’t shy away from looking into the abyss. There’s a dark undercurrent to “The Future.” When you think about your future, there surely will be plenty of laughs along the way and plenty of love. But there’s also something big, black and scary at the end of everybody’s road.

William Dunmyer

William Dunmyer is a lifelong cinephile who fell in love with movies at about the age of 5. He lives in New York City.