The Future (12A)

Starring: Miranda July, Hamish Linklater, Isabella Acres

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The Independent Culture

The Future also deals with time, though its lackadaisical use would surely disgust the hard-pressed citizens of In Time.

The married couple in Miranda July's quirky comedy of manners declare that they want "to be alert and to notice everything", then merely proceed to demonstrate the gap between intention and reality. They would be Sophie (July herself) and Jason (Hamish Linklater), whose physical resemblance to one another – pale, slim, Bolan-haired – is matched by their emotional vagueness. She's a dance teacher, he's a computer tech, and the big life decision they've reached is this: they're going to adopt a cat. A moribund cat called Paw Paw, in fact – only the vet says they must wait 30 days before they collect him.

What they do in the meantime is the subject of this mopey, distracted and pretty unsatisfying film. A brittle whimsy also informed July's 2005 debut Me and You and Everyone We Know, but there it was buttressed with jokes and sly observations. This glum pair give you the pip right from the start. Him: "I always thought I'd be smarter. I also thought eventually we'd be rich." Her: "It's too late for us." He jacks in his job and starts tree-selling for an eco-charity. She fails to make a splash on YouTube with her interpretive dance videos, and instead begins a listless affair with an older man. The mood of inanition becomes overwhelming.

July, a performance artist and short-story writer as well as a film-maker, addresses the struggle for self-expression that haunts certain people, despite (or perhaps because of) their absence of talent. Occasionally she can make that striving poignant and funny. Too often, though, it's twee and tiresome: I recoiled at Jason's earnest apostrophising of the moon (it talks back), and bristled at the icky inner musing, or rather mewsing, of Paw Paw the cat as he considers his prospective owners (it's July's voice, tuned to feline mode). The flag the director planted on the American indie hill with her first film has been knocked askew here. The Future looks anything but bright.