The Future (Berlinale 2011)

I must’ve watched “Me and You and Everyone we Know” at least a dozen times. It’s one of those gift-that-keeps-on-giving kind of movies: there’s something new around every corner. Whether it’s tiny bits of text that get a new meaning with every viewing or the characters’ little quirks – it always gets me. I laugh until I can’t laugh no more. And that’s strange: in its core, the characters inhabiting Me and You and Everyone we Know are pretty tragic.

With Miranda July’s latest feature, “The Future”, it’s the same – but a lot more polarizing. It’s as if she sharpened the pencil: the funny is a lot funnier, and the tragic… I’m not sure what that means yet.

Paw-Paw

From the get-go it’s obvious: this is another one of Miranda July’s quirky creations. Everything she makes seems to spring from a mind that’s essentially childhood and adulthood in a blender: a dirty mess and you can’t really tell which is which anymore. In The Future, this moment comes immediately in the form of July voicing a cat. Which is called Paw-Paw. So yeah.

Personally, I have a big inner child, and sometimes I feel stuck in that very same blender. Whereas Me and You and Everyone we Know focused more on the inner child, The Future, to me, makes me recall sad growing pains: the feeling of being useless, longing for a purpose, some kind of bigger story. Living in Postmodernism – but not Hannah Arendt-style, more like Postmodernism-but-now-with-Facebook. It’s so easy to get paralyzed, and there’s so much to do when you are.

Wrecking Ball

Because this was a Berlinale competition showing, the theatre was cramped. There were loud reactions throughout the film – mainly laughter. This was alienating to me: when I watched Me and You and Everyone we Know back in Leuven, it was just me and a friend in the theatre. The theatre fitted the movie perfectly. Not so much with the roaring Berlinale laughs on the obviously fake cat paws. I started wondering: why am I not laughing? I’d never think this were meant as something funny. Tragically endearing (and human to the core), yes. But funny?

It’s interesting, really. It goes to show The Future could very well be another one of those timeless movies that will haunt me to the grave. I’ll watch it once every two years, and every time it will say something else to me. With every viewing, I could write another review. Maybe someday, it could make me laugh out loud.

In All…

Some films are harder to write about than others. The Future is one of the hard ones. I’m not really sure what it means to me yet. I mean: I understand the cat, the disruption of space and time, the moving shirt… But I don’t get it yet. I have the feeling I’m supposed to learn something for myself from this – but what that is, I haven’t found out yet.

That’s a virtue, by the way. It’s a rare quality in a movie: where it doesn’t appear to be pushing your buttons until you suddenly find yourself thinking about it two hours later, when you’re lying in bed and unable to sleep.

The Future sneeks up on you.