Home Video Hovel: Il Futuro, by Sarah Brinks
Il Futuro is Italian for ‘The Future’. The meaning of the word ‘future’ changes as you get older. Your future when you are a teenager is an ambiguous concept that adults talk about a lot. As you age the future becomes both more immediate and even more difficult to grasp. Il Futurogives you both perspectives on time through the eyes of a young woman and an old man who find themselves thrown together.
Il Futuro is about a pair of teenage orphans who loose their parents in a car crash. The older sister Bianca is nineteen and able to take legal responsibility of her younger bother Tomas. They are both still in high school and go through life like little has changed. They don’t pick up their parents belongings even though they are gone. The kids can’t seem to bring themselves to wash out their parents coffee mugs or cigarette butts. The apartment feels frozen in time. Bianca gets a job washing hair at a salon and Tomas takes up with a couple trainers at a local gym. The trainers start to live with Bianca and Tomas. In a way it is good for the kids because they help them clean up their apartment, they cook, and keep the kids company. Tomas seems to need some sort of outside authority to give him direction and the trainers step up to that. Bianca on the other hand seems completely disconnected from everything. The days go by with no real changes, this stretch of the film feels very dull but is ultimately helpful in establishing the daily lives of the kids. One day the trainers come to Bianca with a plan to help all of them get some fast cash. They pimp Bianca out to an old, American man who everyone calls Maciste. Maciste used to star in movies in the sixties and was once Mr. Universe. He supposedly hides all his money in a safe somewhere in his house and they want Bianca to find it, so they can steal it. Bianca agrees to the plan but instead falls in love with Maciste played by Rutger Hauer.
It took me nearly half the movie to get on board with the film. It felt for the longest time that we were not moving towards anything. Once the Maciste plot line is revealed the film begins to get interesting. Only at the end did it really become clear that you need the boring first half in order to see the subtle but important changes that both Tomas and Bianca go through.
I find it difficult sometimes to judge foreign language actors but I really felt that everyone in the film gave strong performances. The real stand out for me was Hauer. I have only seen a handful of movies that he has been in but he really excels in Il Futuro. Maciste is a lonely old, blind man who is grateful for Bianca’s youthful company. Every moment with him felt authentic. Likely he was able tap into some real emotions as a real-life, aging actor. Bianca and Tomas are also quite good. Bianca is played by Manuella Martelli and Tomas is played by Luigi Ciardo. Not a lot is asked of Ciardo but he delivers a convincing performance as a moody teenage boy. Martelli on the other hand is asked to do a lot including; acting in English, acting against Hauer, and spend a great deal of the film nude. She is convincing as a young woman who is figuring out life, love, and responsibility. She also holds her own in scenes with Hauer.
The film takes place in Rome and to their credit the film makers really take advantage of the setting. In the beginning you see how beautiful just their walk to school is, they pass centuries of history just to get to class to learn about history. Then later after Bianca meets Maciste she starts renting and watching his movies. You see her find the locations and landmarks where he shot his movies. Sometimes they show her at a landmark and then later show you the scene from the Maciste’s movie. They also feature the obnoxious nature of tourists in Rome. I’m sure it is something that people who live in Rome just deal with it but there are several shots of Bianca encountering groups of tourists with their cameras. It helps to show how disconnected she is from the world around her. She is much like the Colosseum, just a part of the background of Rome’s landscape.
Il Futuro is a strong film that takes its time to tell its story. It is worth sitting through the borderline boring first half to get to the much deeper, more interesting second half. Hauer fans will enjoy his dramatic performance and people like me who are only vaguely aware of him will enjoy his excellent performance. The subtitles in the film are clear and help even in the English sections when Bianca’s English can be a little muddled. Despite my early misgiving Il Futuro is a film I can recommend.