Opening 27 Oct 2011
Writing credits: Miranda July
Principal actors: Miranda July, Hamish Linklater, David Warshofsky, Isabella Acres, Joe Putterlik
In this slow-motion, black comedy about Sophie (Miranda July) and Josh (Hamish Linklater), the more appropriate title would be No Future. Not even they know, or seem to care, where they are going, but, o miracle, they have pumped up their energy to make a world-shaking decision: they will adopt a cat from the animal shelter. Considering that they are past 30 and still living in a messy one-room apartment where they do nothing but sit in front of their laptops, this is a huge step into unknown territory. Luckily, Paw Paw (the talking cat voiced by Miranda) won’t be available for a month, so Josh and Miranda have 30 days to “adjust” to the idea of accepting responsibility. This small blip in their lethargic lives spurns them to new activity. As they say, “If we were dying in a month, we would reprioritize.” Josh begins to work for a tree-hugger group which sells “adopt a tree” contracts from door to door. Sophie, who is a receptionist at a dance center, practices new choreography and watches the dances of her peers on You Tube. Both must part from their internet connections, but, luckily, have a few minutes to look up important details such as flu warnings or that “Christmas falls on a Tuesday.” While Josh is knocking on doors to save the environment, Sophie goes back to the animal shelter for another look at Paw Paw, where she meets Marshall, 15 years older. She visits him in his suburban house and begins an unemotional affair. In the end the constellation has changed for all four, including the cat, but I doubt that anyone would really even notice, especially not the main protagonists.
Bring patience to this film. We, who are busy, curious, and enthusiastic, will want to shoot both Sophie and Josh within 20 minutes. We will scream, “Get a life. Move over. Talk faster.” Where does anyone speak so slowly with such a whiney voice (and this is supposed to be Los Angeles)? Then, after you’ve torn out your last hair and demanded your money back, return to the cinema and savour each small facial expression, comment and movement for its parodic effect. You’ll soon recognize acquaintances or even yourself in certain moments.
You need to know director Miranda July, and this film is a good beginning. She is a slip of a young, 37-year-old woman, talented down to her skinny knees. She wrote, directed and starred in this film; I can imagine that she had a lot of fun creating the dialog, especially for Paw Paw. (If Uggy can win the Palm Dog Award for best doggy performance in Cannes, then Paw Paw should definitely win a best cat award in any competition.) As a multi-talented genius, she is artist, stage performer, singer, and writer, as well as movie maker. Her newest book It Chooses You just came out. (Becky Tan)