The unexpected turns in Il Futuro are heightened by sublime direction

Alicia Scherson's enthralling Il Futuro asks the question no one wants to hear: How would you see the world after a personal tragedy? When her parents are killed in a car accident, teenage Bianca (Manuela Martelli) is forced to face this existential quandary, not only with regard to her own uncertain future, but also as the impromptu caretaker of younger brother Tomas (Luigi Ciardo). Bearing a striking resemblance to dragon-tattooed Noomi Rapace, Bianca navigates this new reality to the best of her ability, but an unqualifiable malaise slowly clouds her perceptions. Matters are complicated when two of Tomas's friends from the local gym, Boloñes (Alessandro Giallocosta) and Libio (Nicolas Vaporidis), awkwardly embed themselves within the familial unit, proposing a get-rich scheme that hinges primarily upon Bianca's ethical compromise. To provide extra layers to an otherwise straightforward story, Scherson, adapting Roberto Bolaño's novel, incorporates surrealistic, hyper-expressive visual techniques, resulting in a film that is excitingly unclassifiable. Bianca's footing becomes increasingly unstable when her criminal participation leads to an unexpected romantic attachment with a target, Maciste (Rutger Hauer), a shadowy shut-in who hasn't left his decadent mansion in years. Bianca and Maciste's relationship comprises the majority of the film's final third, and it's here where the alchemy of Scherson's manifold genre-blending is most brilliantly realized. What feels at first like a coming-of-age story takes on apocalyptic and noirish undertones, all the while maintaining its focus on wounded characters in crisis mode. It takes a skilled, confident filmmaker to corral these elements, and Scherson, in her third directorial feature, proves herself capable.


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