Movie review: The Future

Melissa Starker, Columbus Alive

Filmmaker Miranda July is adorable - curly mopped, big-eyed and gangly, with a face that frequently wears an expression that reads like a question mark. Her way of storytelling has a similarly cute streak, but cute doesn't equal light, or traditionally likable.

At the center of her new film, "The Future," are Sophie (July) and Jason (Hamish Linklater), a mid-30s couple about to adopt a sick cat named Paw Paw from a shelter. They've chosen Paw Paw for its projected life span - a low-commitment six months - but during a visit before they can take it home, the vet suggests that the cat could live for years.

The possibility of long-term responsibility throws Jason and Sophie into turmoil and toward a quest to find meaning in their lives. They follow divergent paths, him toward environmental work and her toward a relationship with a middle-aged single father.

Throughout, July checks in with the caged Paw Paw, sharing the cat's dreams of having a home in a babyish voiceover.

Sophie's and Jason's clueless self-absorption can be grating, but their actions will also sting with familiarity for some viewers. July asks her audience to consider what might be lost in the present by focusing on the future.

At times "The Future" is pathetic or annoying. But it's also funny and smart. Even though it can be cute, it has claws that leave a mark.

"The Future"

Opens Friday at Gateway Film Center

3 1/2 stars out of 4