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BERLINALE 2011 Competition / Germany-United States

You, me and you and me in July’s The Future

by 

Five years after her debut feature, Me and You and Everyone We Know (winner of the Cannes Camera d'Or in 2005), eclectic US writer-director-artist Miranda July is in competition at Berlin with a film co-produced by German company Razor Film Produktion (whose international co-productions include Waltz with Bashir [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
, Circus Columbia [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Danis Tanovic
film profile
]
and Womb [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
).

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Previously shown at Sundance, The Future [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
centres on a dull couple of “lifelong students" in their thirties, Jason and Sophie (played by Hamish Linklater and July). A bit bohemian and a bit fuddy-duddy (despite their addiction to the Internet, that great way of killing time), they share the same boredom, as they both wait for something to become of their lives and their destinies to be fulfilled.

Although they lack any romantic passion, they are so alike and take such delight in the same whimsical idiosyncrasies that together they form a unit that is isolated, in space (their apartment) and time (not only because Jason has the power to “stop time", but above all because their unchanging days run into each other).

One day, however, they decide that “it’s time" to begin the rest of their lives. They do this by quitting their dreary jobs and adopting an injured cat, who is a sporadic narrator throughout the film (in a voiceover by July) describing the waiting process that thus begins. Indeed, the couple have 30 days left before they welcome their new lodger. Thirty days before they start the countdown to their fortieth birthday, and so their fiftieth birthday and so old age and death. Thirty days for a "sign" to appear that will indicate what direction to take. They must remain "on the alert", they repeat to themselves.

While she gives up on the idea of filming a lopsided dance by day, as she had planned, to begin a strange affair with an older man, he unenthusiastically tries being a door-to-door anti-global warming campaigner and ends up making friends with an old man. However, the colourful details that entertain viewers at the start of the film are thinner on the ground and, like the characters, we are invaded by profound existential gloom.

Jason then freezes time for good, which certainly opens the door to an alternative destiny (where they are separated, giving Jason the chance to imagine a future for their relationship, the future it won’t have), but doesn’t lift either the characters or the audience out of the depressing atmosphere that takes hold of the film after its colourful opening.

The apathetic soulmates happily get back together, resuming their drab daily life as if they had never left it, for in the end there is nothing to wait for, because life is the here and now, because the future is always already upon us.

(Translated from French)

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