The road of adolescence and the journey of maturity has customarily been seen as those aging from ages 15-20, with not only their physical maturity but most importantly, their intellectual maturity. And for as long as time can be conceived, curiosity, as well as intrigue in the hopes and contemplations of those still yet to fully develop mentally, has evolved generationally. And because of advancements and countless cultural resets, the ideology, and even desires are converted or sprouted differently, especially considering how the place of origin affects the contemplations of individuals. This curiosity among youth and their journey is the subject of this documentary, Futura, directed by a band of very talented European auteurs such as Francesco Munzi (Assault to the Sky), Alice Rohrwacher (Happy as Lazarro, The Wonders), and Pietro Marcello (Martin Eden, Lost and Beautiful). Its purpose is to show, not only the cultural differences in the country of Italy, but the overall ambition spanning across this generation of children inevitably transitioning into adults. Our 3 directors of this tepid documentary traverse across the country of Italy, stopping in multiple cities to capture the slight or even major contrast of dreams within the generation.
To start off, this documentary is rather lovely, to say the least, as the cinematographer of the film uses the underused 16mm film throughout the entirety of the documentary. And since the project focuses on the hopes and desires of young adults, the use of film rather than digital technology enhances or rather augments the sense of intimacy within this documentary. We are essentially taking a step into these individuals’ lives and learning about their thoughts on their own future (which Mike Mills used as a narrative device C’mon C’mon), which will usually open up a deeper story within their personal lives. The sense of intimacy is remarkably strong, as it inevitably builds a stronger rapport between these growing people, which in turn, helps convey the stronger message the film strives for. It is ironic to see the use of film stock when focusing on the new generation in the technologically overwhelming world they have grown up in, but it appears to be intentional, as a way to increase the levels of warmth and nostalgia within this film.
But the beauty that happens to be most evident is the subjects themselves. The filmmakers repeatedly ask the same question, “What does the future mean for you?”, and the range of responses contains a surprising amount of variety and even profoundness at times. To listen and endure the contrasting answers is peaceful yet intriguing, as these individuals give their answers which carry various outcomes, whether it be the brutal reality grounded goals or the dreams still grasping to the towering ceiling of opportunity. It is fascinating to listen intently and almost tether yourself to the mindset of these young adults. The filmmakers do an excellent job giving space and freedom to those being asked the question, and a huge prop to editor Aline Hervé who splices the film perfectly to restrain from creating a choppy documentary. The cuts to specific city environments during talking heads blend very well and it rarely distracts you from the subject matter but rather enhances the answers’ connotation.
As for the flaws, although the questioning fits this general topic of discussion in the film, it does certainly become meandering and repetitious after the 45 minutes mark. The overall path of the documentary comes off as linear at times because the trajectory remains stagnant for parts of the film. Futura is not an effective slow burn, plain and simple, but it’s the slow areas that steadily drop off in terms of interest. And as noted earlier, because the questions are identical for a majority of the film, you will feel as if you have encountered every answer there is to the question pertaining to the future for these individuals. And with that, the interest the documentary seduces from you dwindles slowly and disappointingly, as you at first feel a sense of excitement, but becomes an almost agonizing experience as the film trudges along through the salty waters. It’s like a pristine lake, gorgeous on the forefront but as you dip your toes in and begin to detect deep-rooted seaweed beneath the trenches.
For the most part, Futura succeeds in a number of aspects, including the ability to invoke a sense of reassuring curiosity, and nostalgia to convey the beauty that is the life of adolescence. The insight into this generational evolution is delicate and genuine, and at the end of the day, it is safe to say you will better emphasize this society of individuals. And of course, it is not without its flaws, while it is a solid documentary displaying key objectives of a generic documentary, While the mishaps and trip-ups don’t necessarily undermine the potential of this film. The message comes across clearly and the subject matter is touched on elegantly with a tinge of warm-heartedness. Prey upon this film with a light heart, restrain from expecting too much and it is quite a lovely documentary about the generational change in adolescence.
Futura is now streaming on Amazon Prime