When 'The Future' begins, a small, creaky voice speaks over a black screen and asks us if we know what it feels like to have lived outside your entire lives -- born outside, never lived inside, never petted, always wild. But now, the narrator tells us, he has found the people who make it safe to make the noise that means "I belong to you," which, as it turns out, is a purr. This is our narrator, Paw Paw, a wild cat with an injured paw who spends the majority of the movie waiting for the two people who rescued him and made him aware of what it's like to be inside, to count seconds on a clock, to know that there's more than day and night and birds, to come and take him home.
Like all of writer/director Miranda July's work, including her first full-length feature 'Me and You and Everyone We Know,' 'The Future' is about our endless search for connection and our equally endless capacity to screw it up. Paw Paw's would-be saviors, Sophie and Jason, think that their good deed will only cost them a few months of their lives; the cat is dying of renal failure and is quite old, so they figure they can return to their rather unfettered ways after Paw Paw shuffles off this mortal coil. To their surprise and horror, the vet at the shelter tells them that Paw Paw could live up to five years with the proper care and affection. Paw Paw has to stay at the shelter for a month to heal and then they must come get him; the shelter is packed and he will be euthanized if they don't. The couple (played by July and Hamish Linklater) decide they must spend the next month figuring out what they really want to do in life, because in five years, they'll be 40, which is almost 50, which is more or less too late to do anything they ever really wanted to do.