Miranda July Makes 'The Future' All Her Own

[caption id="attachment_68744" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Roadside Attractions"]The Future[/caption]

Chances are, if you didn't go for Miranda July's brand of quirk the first time around in her debut award-winning feature "Me and You and Everyone We Know," you won't be won over by her second effort, "The Future."

But if you (like us) were swept up and a little taken aback by the inventiveness and sweetness of her deceptively delicate vision, you won’t want to miss her latest, which debuted at Sundance to great acclaim.

Set in sunny L.A., "The Future" centers on a thirtysomething couple, Sophie (July) and Jason (Hamish Linklater), who are worried about the next stages of their lives. They attempt to adopt a stray cat (who, as it so happens, becomes the film's narrator) to lock down a sense of stability, only to find out they must wait a month to bring their homeless feline home. So to make the most of their time together during the interim phase, they quit their jobs, disconnect their Internet connection, and take on new hobbies.

Call it an early mid-life crisis, if you will.

Naturally, their behavior leads to a relationship meltdown of sorts, whereby Sophie acts out in a way that could seriously damage her future with Jason.

On paper, this might seem like a conventional romantic dramedy. But in July’s hands (she wrote the film as well), "The Future" takes on a life of its own. July, best known as an acclaimed performance artist and short story writer, injects a sensibility that’s all her own in every beautifully composed frame.

Who else would make a talking cat (named Paw Paw) the film's most redeeming character, or give someone a superpower to bring the moon closer to Earth, or stop time altogether? It's this surreal touch that adds whimsy to a tale that could otherwise have proven plodding and sad.

Is July "the future" of indie filmmaking? Who knows? But we don't think that'd be a bad thing.