The Future was Miranda Julys second film with she again directing, writing and starring. It is a similar whimsical, appealingly eccentric and off-centre look at life and relationships. And The Future is about as whimsically eccentric as it gets with Hamish Linklater having conversations with a talking moon; the film being narrated by a stray cat; where an ambulatory blanket appears to be stalking Miranda; while Hamish Linklater also has the ability to stop time shades of Cashback (2006). This is the sort of thing that teeters between offbeat charm Miranda Julys leaps off into fantasy here make you think of Michel Gondry films with their nutty little throwaway visual gags and just being silly. Certainly, when July throws in scenes of her opening a window to shout across the city in order to see if she and David Warshofsky live in the same area, she seems determined to push the envelope.
At the centre of The Future is the presence of Miranda July itself. A tall, gangly beanpole figure she is like the studious girl at high school who was pretty but too awkward and nerdy to get dates. July even has a monologue here at one point bemoaning the fact that she wishes she had one notch on the dial closer to pretty in terms of looks. Equally, with just one notch more you feel that Miranda Julys work could move from indie whimsy to a wry mumblecore cynicism, yet she often continues to play scenes that could easily have gone that way with a peculiar deadpan innocence.
A mainstream filmmaker Miranda July certainly is not if you were to imagine a mirror opposite in terms of where she sits on the spectrum of woman directors you would probably find someone like Nora Ephron. Julys films come together in ways that are not always neatly wrapped you can search in vain for cliche cues and banal epiphanies. The whimsy does settle down with undeniable effect. The cat narration (conducted by Miranda July herself affecting an annoyingly squawky childs voice), for example, seems an irritatingly twee effect at the outset but soon develops an extraordinary striking and poetic viewpoint and eventually leads to a heartbreaking end. The scenes with Hamish Linklater talking to the moon and freezing time pan out into some potent writing in the scene where we see him with Miranda held under a blanket not wanting to unfreeze her and allow the moment to transpire where she will leave him.
Yet for all her claim that she writes her films and stories about emotions rather than plot, Miranda Julys central character is a curiously blank one. Her portrayal of relationships seems oddly dissociated from any negative emotions such as anger, pain, guilt or unhappiness. At most, we see her expressing frustration at her failure to get inspired about her series of YouTube dance moves. Her having an affair with David Warshofsky sits in a black box where we are left entirely in the dark regarding any of her reasons for doing so, about her unhappiness at staying with Hamish Linklater or indeed for eventually leaving Warshofsky. That leaves the central character an odd blank in terms of effect The Future almost feels like a film made for the autistic where the characters emotional reactions have all been surgically excised. Certainly, the last scene of the film is an oddly affecting one but it says so much in terms of what the characters have never discussed as to be frustrating.