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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Future Weather DVD Review

Future Weather is seriously good drama about a thirteen-year-old girl who is abandoned by her mother and is taken in by her grandmother, disrupting both their lives.

The opening scene shows Tanya (Marin Ireland) fooling around with her boyfriend in a car. When she gets home (with the boyfriend), she goes into her daughter’s room to check on her. Her daughter, Lauduree (Perla Haney-Jardine), is already in bed, though still awake. These two seemingly simple scenes are excellent in setting up these characters and giving us an idea of the relationship without any obvious exposition. I love that Tanya is introduced as a carefree girlfriend before being shown as a mom, because of course that is the order she thinks of herself. Her priorities are clear right from the beginning.

Though it still comes as a shock when Lauduree gets home from school to find that her mother has moved out and gone to California (taking most everything with her, and leaving Lauduree fifty dollars “for food and other things”). A note tells Lauduree that her mom is following her “dream of becoming a makeup artist for the stars.” You get the sense Lauduree has been taking care of herself quite a bit already anyway, but even so, this is huge punch to take.

The note instructs Lauduree to call her grandmother, but Lauduree at first tells no one what has happened. Though after a while, Greta (Amy Madigan), arrives to check on her daughter and granddaughter, and Lauduree is forced to tell her the truth.  Greta tells her she can’t live alone, that she has to come stay with her. And that won’t be the only change in the teenager’s life, for Greta is moving to Florida to live with her longtime boyfriend Ed (William Sadler) as soon as her house is sold.

The other adult in Lauduree’s life is Ms. Markovi (Lili Taylor), her science teacher. Environmental issues are important to Lauduree and she turns in a paper saying, “solutions for global warming must be researched now - we’re at the tipping point.” She’s concerned with the preservation of the world, while her immediate personal world is clearly in trouble.

Lauduree’s only friend is Neel (Anubhav Jain), a somewhat awkward boy who has just moved to town and is the only other student in Ms. Markovi’s science club.  The science club stuff isn’t quite as compelling as Lauduree’s home situation. The kids and Ms. Markovi interview random people about local animals. And the people say how they haven’t seen certain animals in a long time, obviously an environmental message about how species are disappearing. The message is an important one, but it feels a bit forced. Likewise, the scene where Lauduree lectures neighbors about the environment doesn’t quite work. But those scenes are the exceptions. The movie over all is really good, with well-developed characters.

This film boasts excellent (and sometimes stunningly good) performances all round. Perla Haney-Jardine gives a remarkable performance as Lauduree.  The film really depends on her character being believable, and we are with her every step of the way. Amy Madigan is phenomenal as Greta. She is definitely not the typical sweet grandmother character that one might imagine being portrayed. In fact, when she first shows up at Lauduree’s house, she’s kind of frightening. This woman is damaged herself, and you really wonder if she’ll be able to take care of Lauduree any better than Tanya did. 

And though she’s only in a few scenes, Marin Ireland really turns in a good performance as Tanya. Because of her performance, even though she abandoned her daughter, you can’t help but feel some sympathy for Tanya. You want her to get it together, for her own sake as well as for the sake of her child. And William Sadler, an actor I always enjoy seeing, does a great job as Ed, a man who truly loves Greta and because of her, does his best to connect with Lauduree.  

Future Weather was written and directed by Jenny Deller. This is Deller’s first feature-length film.

Bonus Features

The DVD has a few bonus features. There are two deleted scenes, the first of which shows Lauduree and Neel staging a small protest, and the second being a nice scene with Lauduree and Ed in which she asks him if there are any freshwater mollusks in Florida.

This DVD also includes the short film Save The Future, which was written and directed by Jenny Deller. It stars Perla Haney-Jardine as Laduree (yes, a different spelling of the character’s name). This three-minute film really focuses on the environmental message, and is narrated by Laduree. She surveys random people, asking “What does the future mean to you?” She then turns to the camera and says this was a public service announcement “from your daughter.” As you might guess, this is handled in a much more heavy-handed manner than the feature was.

The bonus features also include the film’s trailer.

Future Weather is scheduled to be released on April 16, 2013 through Virgil Films.

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