Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 23, 2011 8:00 pm 
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Existential decisions spurred by a wounded cat

Miranda July, whose 2005 Me and You and Everyone We Know had many admirers, is back with a grimly whimsical existential tale of a terminally tentative couple of thirty-five-year-olds, played by July herself and Hamish Linklater. July certainly has a distinctive style, a blend of the surreal and the mundane that seems to suit very well this story about quiet desperation in Los Angeles spurred by the doomed decision to adopt a cat that makes the pair separately revamp their lives.

Sophie (July) teaches dance to children, but isn't much of a dancer. It's about all she can do to slowly lift a bent leg with one arm extended. Jason (Linklater), whose uncertainty is balanced by a grounded manner and a deep voice, gives tech advice on the telephone, a job he’s willing to part with. The cat adoption is a major step for this wispy couple, who've been together five years. And the cat is special, a wounded, sick stray at the vet's called Paw Paw with perhaps six months to live, perhaps five years, depending on how much love and care he gets from his new masters. In the film’s most terminally whimsical streak July indulges in, Paw Paw has a running narration throughout, a monologue of brave desperation voiced by a squeaky-toned July. Archie and Mehitabel would hardly understand, but today's marginalized American middle class might get it and also understand the couple’s drift toward nowhere.

Sophie and Jason, who make a pretty cute couple despite their lack of focus or energy, and whose conversation often verges on the metaphysical, both quit their jobs. She has an affair with an older man (David Warshofsky) who sells banners for conventions and who has a preternaturally articulate little girl who likes to dig trenches in the back yard. Jason takes a job canvassing for an ecology group selling trees door to door. He also befriends an old man who fixes electronic gadgets, and whose house seems full of the same objects he and Sophie have in their apartment. When Sophie starts to tell Jason about her affair, he freezes her on the floor and asks the moon for advice. All this seems pretty random, and you have to be a July-ite to like it. But July proceeds with bold assurance from one capricious inspiration to the next, and if you wind up deciding you've been had, it won't hit you right away, because the trajectory is quite inventive.

The Future debuted at Sundance in January 2011 and was in competition at Berlin and showed at SXSW. Seen and reviewed as part of the San Francisco International Film Festival, April-May 2011.

US release date July 29, 2011, France August 17, UK November 4.

©Chris Knipp. Blog:

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