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October 1, 2011 | 12:54 p.m. CST
In Miranda July’s new film The Future, a creeping, scratchy voiceover introduces a curly-haired, disheveled 30-something couple, Sophie (July) and Jason (Hamish Linklater). The voice is not a ghost or a projection of Sophie or Jason as children – though it sounds childlike – it’s their future. The voice belongs to Paw-Paw, the rescue cat with an injured, bandaged paw who is waiting for the couple to adopt him.
“I made the sound that means I am the one belonging to you,” Paw-Paw says and wiggles his toes, delighted to be purring. Sophie and Jason leave Paw-Paw in the hospital cage for his 30-day wait. After the bandage is removed, he will be theirs.Related Movie
In the meantime, the couple decides to act upon all their unfulfilled dreams. They quit their jobs. They disconnect the Internet. Sophie pastes “30 Days, 30 Dances” posters along the walls and attempts to complete a YouTube-worthy dance video. Jason joins an environmental coalition and walks door-to-door selling trees. Oddly, they decide (without deciding) to spend their 30-day freedom adventure apart.
Paw-Paw’s foot is mummified behind the cage door as he patiently admits that by waiting for Sophie and Jason, he is waiting for his life to begin.
It seems that Sophie and Jason are waiting, too, by forcing life before they turn 40 and subsequently becoming meaningless handfuls of “loose change” whose desperation is apparent. The film incorporates some comedic and imaginative elements, namely a talking moon, but happiness is sparse and we barely see teeth. Sophie walks as if she will break at any second and Jason’s tousled hair falls upon a frozen face of perpetual confusion, mouth drooping.
For Paw-Paw, the future looks bleak.