Miranda July begins her delicate new work, The Future, with a pair of vignettes that succinctly define her characters and initiate us into an ethereal world that profoundly mirrors our own.
First, we hear the voice of Paw Paw (July), an injured cat taken to a shelter with a promise from Jason and Sophie to return for him. He asks us if we know what it's like to be "born outside" and to never once be petted: to experience "the darkness that is not appropriate to talk about," he says in his fragile voice.
Next we meet Sophie (July) and Jason (Hamish Linklater), sitting at opposite ends of a couch. Jason stirs, and Sophie says, "Get me some water." But he's only shifting positions. They chat a little about their unique mental powers: Sophie can move objects with her mind, and Jason can stop time. So she asks him to do it. And (with her help) he does.
Like Me and You and Everyone We Know, July's wondrous debut film, The Future revolves around lonely social outsiders -- creative people and creative dreamers -- who have only each other for support. July, a performance artist-cum-filmmaker, is no dreamer, although doing the kind of work she does, she probably feels like one. The Future is darker and more ponderous than Me and You, and so, to some, likely to be less accessible (that is, less enjoyable). Such is the nature of art, a phrase that's a paradox in itself.
The Future unfolds a story of Sophie and Jason that's at once heartwarming (because they're so in tune with each other) and heartbreaking (because they're so alone with each other), smartly written, rife with metaphor, and tense with the desolate drama of human relations. And yet, it's often laugh-out-loud funny for anyone with a sensibility of humor.
Jason and Sophie agree to adopt Paw Paw thinking he has only six months to live, a commitment they decide that they can handle. But then they learn he could live for five years. They'll be 40 then, and Jason says that's almost 50, the point at which life ends. So these two forlorn Angelenos decide to spend the month until Paw Paw gets out of the hospital living as if they're about to die. What happens to them is at times a work of bold imagination and always one of graceful humanity -- that is, a film by Miranda July.
Directed by Miranda July
Starring Miranda July, Hamish Linklater
Starts Fri., Sept. 16. Melwood