Dear Faithful Tiny Mix Tapes Reader,
I regretfully must advise you to pass on Future Weather, the plodding debut from writer and director Jenny Deller. I believe regret is the appropriate sentiment here, because this duckling of a film was lovingly nurtured by its mother without much support, and she raised something precious but intrinsically bland. I feel comfortable likening it to a downward spiraling internet date with someone attractive yet humorless. Regardless of their physical features, the conversation is stilted and terse, and by the second course you’re already wondering how much it’s going to cost. In this case, it would only be a loss of time. Fortunately for you, I volunteered to be the scapegoat for an evening.
Treading familiar territory and punctuating the prosaic with an environmental call-to-arms, Future Weather is situated in an awkward place, much like its thirteen-year-old protagonist, the plucky Lauduree, ably portrayed by Perla Haney-Jardine. Lauduree has an intense passion for botany and sustainability, interests that don’t bode well for a child expected to carry the weight of a story. Her mother, a speed freak and make-up artist, seems like a more compelling study, but she abandons Lauduree early on to pursue her dream of becoming a cosmetologist for the stars. Stuck with fifty bucks and facing eviction from their trailer, Lauduree is forced to move in with her grandmother (Amy Madigan), who resents her own daughter and has no qualms with chiding Lauduree. This is where the story sputters and stagnates. With only one geeky classmate and a teacher she admires, Lauduree doesn’t have anyone worth talking to; and more importantly, we don’t have anyone entertain us. She would much rather work on her science project, anyway.
The premise of abandonment is promising, if depressing, but the narrative swiftly sinks. With her mother gone, Lauderee promptly gets caught stealing a compact fluorescent bulb (because they save energy!) and has to deal with the scorn of her coarse and irritating grandmother. The deeper problem, however, is character selection. Lauduree is intelligent, well-adjusted and kind of lame. She is the embodiment of the dull and forgettable kids you half-remember who only seemed to exist during school hours. You had no reason to think about their home life because you didn’t care. None of your friends cared either. An intriguing foil might have offset her shortcomings, but we’re stuck with a flabby outcast as pathetic as she is. Our only other hope is Lauderee’s science teacher, the inimitable Lily Taylor. But her character is just as flat, a one-dimensional sketch of an inspirational role model.
Although the story flounders, the film does have a striking visual identity, with picturesque landscape shots and judicious use of soft focus. The pastoral imagery cleanses the palate and is a refreshing reprieve from the cotton mouth inducing plot, but the scattered pleasures end there. Interest does not just fade, it fizzles like a faulty firecracker. In short, if this one is coming to an arthouse near you, head to the multiplex.
Your Ambassador of Mediocrity,
Ryan Patrick Mooney