MIRANDA JULY’S FUTURE IS METAPHOR-PACKED

MIRANDA JULY HOLDS HER TRADEMARK STARE—THE THOUSAND YARD DEADPAN THAT PEERS FROM THE PAGES OF SEEMINGLY EVERY ALTERNATIVE PUBLICATION—NOT SO MUCH AN ASSERTION OF IDENTITY AS AN IMPRESSIONABLE SURFACE FOR THE REST OF US TO STICK MAGNETS TO. A WRITER, ACTRESS, MUSICAL ACT, AND ALL-AROUND PERFORMANCE ARTIST, IT MAY VERY WELL BE HER STRONGEST SUIT—THE RECESSIVE GENE THAT ENEBLES JULY TO HOP BETWEEN LABELS, AS IF THE HOLDER OF A MULTIMEDIA EU PASSPORT.
TEXT Matthew Kim-Cook

 

 

Following the critical success of her 2005 directorial debut,  Me and You and Everyone We Know, July subsequently took to a strain of performative work seemingly equal parts workshop and art piece. Experimental performances of Things We Don’t Understand and Definitely Are Not Going to Talk About (2006), most notably at The Kitchen, continued her increasingly interactive artistic dialogue with emphases that ultimately led to her latest and second film, The Future, which commits the core pursuits of these recent explorations to cinema. Is it a fit?

The Future finds its muse in an existential malaise for which there is no shortage of metaphor—whether the prison of domesticity or sexual trepidation, our navigator (and writer-director-star) Miranda July leads a way informed as much by the boredom-testing meditations of modern art as the forgiving genre of independent film that allots the space to explore it.

 

 

But this leeway becomes the pivot of July’s screen presence—sharp and so not quite ingénue, hers is an androgyny at once transparent and mercurial.  We have the haircut: not pageboy, but altar boy and affixed to the male lead (the lanky Hamish Linklater) in a suggestion of anima and animus that’s largely responsible for how impossible it is to forget you’re watching a Miranda July film. This, however, does not give way to the usual airborne pretentions of self-made star vehicles—instead, she’s mythically normal, so entirely extant and imaginable the film remains grounded. And so despite the recurrent image of a couple embracing in darkest night, curls cascading over ringlets bordering on decadence, we at least know the romantic silhouette is probably caused by a nearby Macbook.

“I wish I were just one notch prettier; I’m right on the edge. I have to make my case with each new person,” goes some of July’s most transparent dialogue – transparent, that is, but for the complaint, as it is in this space that  The Future manages to traverse its prompts one awkward (or graceful) (or awkwardly graceful) arabesque after another. This does however create a capacity for whimsy, employed often as a sort of self-correcting tic but too often in place of actual decisiveness, dousing a potentiating moment rather than consummating it. But such is the honest quality of portraiture in The Future, July seemingly playing with the idea of a film and supposed responsibilities of its star rather than blindly satisfying them. From the credits on it becomes apparent one is about to spend an hour and some change up Miranda July’s ass. It soon after becomes apparent this isn’t a bad deal at all.

 

 

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