Review by Sean Boelman
There aren’t a lot of films that give young people the credit they deserve as individuals who can be genuinely intelligent and wise, and that is something that really makes Futura unique. However, this documentary is arguably more effective in intent than execution, as the directors’ work here feels oddly removed.
In the movie, filmmakers Pietro Marcello, Francesco Munzi, and Alice Rohrwacher interview teenagers throughout Italy about their dreams and their visions of the future. It’s an interesting approach to explore the world through the eyes of the people who will be shaping it and inheriting it, but it also feels like the movie is less profound than it believes it is.
One of the fascinating things that this film does is call attention to the things that are important to today’s youth. However, one has to wonder how much of this is actually the subjects of the movie philosophizing, and how much of it is driven by the questions that the interviewers are asking. Would these kids even be discussing, much less thinking about these things without the guiding hand of the filmmakers?
There is also the fact that the film feels very distant from its subjects. The movie almost seems to look at the people it is interviewing as a sort of other. Although the film definitely deserves points for even acknowledging and respecting their perspective, it feels as if the audience is supposed to be surprised at the fact that these people are so smart, which feels extremely reductive.
And for what is meant to be a portrait of the entire country of Italy, it’s a shame that the interviews in the movie seem rather limited. Although the filmmakers traveled the country to interview teens from a variety of places, they failed to recognize much in the way of fringe groups and those who are generally considered outsiders among their peers.
This does cause the film to feel rather derivative at a certain point. The interviews aren’t disinteresting, but after a while, the movie has gotten its message across and is simply beating a dead horse. It’s easy to see how the world is a dark place, but there is hope to be found if people are optimistic.
The cinematography has some glimpses of gorgeousness. It’s often beautifully-shot with some wonderful use of the scenery of Italy. However, given the fact that a majority of the film is just talking heads, there is only so much that can be done aesthetically, and Marcello, Munzi, and Rohrwacher do their best to make it visually interesting.
Futura shows a lot of potential, and should be appreciated for its great intentions, but it’s just not anywhere near as effective as it could have been. It’s noble, even if its efforts do come up mostly hollow.
Futura is now playing in theaters.