Alicia Scherson’s third feature-length film, Il Futuro, is a staggeringly impressive watch. Adapted from Chilean novel Una Novelita Lumpen by Roberto Bolano, Il Futuro is a thrilling tale of suspense, eroticism, and intrigue set against a backdrop of vintage Hollywood Gothic noir.
Il Futuro follows two teenage orphans, Bianca and Tomas, who become intertwined with two untrustworthy opportunists from the local gym. These acquaintances persuade Bianca (the eldest of the orphans, played by Manuela Martelli) to infiltrate and rob the home of one of their ex-clients, Marciste (Rutger Hauer) – a blind, former Mister Universe and movie star who has become something of a recluse. However, Bianca’s developing feelings for Marciste seem set to compromise her original intentions.
From the onset Scherson’s distinct visual aesthetic is apparent – the titles appear in thick gold lettering giving viewers a sense of this tale of Hollywood noir that is about to unfold. The director builds up and impressive sense of intrigue and suspense in the film’s slow-burning opening – one of scenes sees Bianca and her brother view the now-mangled car that killed their parents. Scherson films the scene whilst slowly zooming in on the macabre wreckage set against a soundtrack of rumbling unease. This immediately crafts a sense of dark alienation that initially haunts Il Futuro and showcases Scherson’s powerful and refreshing directorial style.
The narrative unfolds like a Hitchcockian suspense story with no predictable trajectory and countless enigmas that hit the viewer, from the unease provided by Tomas’s untrustworthy gym acquaintances to the truth behind the relationship between Bianca and Marciste. These answers are unravelled throughout Scherson’s well-crafted screenplay – although they ensure the viewers brain is continually at work throughout this intriguing feature.
There is a marvellous sense of the Gothic in both the aesthetic of Il Futuro and throughout the film’ narrative. Marciste’s mansion has echoes of Blanche and Jane Hudson’s decaying home from What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? where we see decaying architecture and covered furniture, with remnants of Marciste’s film career scattered amongst. Marciste could initially attract comparisons with the Beast from Beauty and the Beast – he is a reclusive, impaired creature whose humanity, warmth and vulnerability begins to show through his time with Bianca. Rutger Hauer is utterly sublime – a true master of his craft, and Il Futuro provides us with his finest performance in recent years.
Il Futuro further shows echoes of Hollywood noir with Bianca and Marciste’s romance gradually paralleling those from Marciste’s old films – however, viewers will gain a further sense of unease through their knowledge of the darker motivations that have lead Bianca to seek the blind actor out. Martelli’s performance is also exceptional – seeing Bianca begin to fall for Marciste makes for a heart-warming romance, however the actress ensures that we still question whether Bianca will steal from Marciste.
Scherson has crafted a fascinating slice of gothic noir that proves to be both sublimely acted and directed. Il Futuro is packed with suspense, heart and nostalgia – resulting in an outstandingly original combination.
Release Date: 28th June 2013 (EIFF)
Stars: Manuela Martelli, Luigi Ciardo, Rutger Hauer
Director: Alicia Scherson