' ' Cinema Romantico: Future Weather

Monday, June 16, 2014

Future Weather

Those who deny climate change can be a bit, shall we say, prickly on the subject. It is not simply that the evidence, as they have gathered it, and the resolution, as they see it, is dismissing climate change as a crock but that those preaching climate change is coming to destroy us are anti-creationist heathens whose “science” must be stopped or God help us all. I don’t necessarily mean this introduction to be a screed against the Global Warming Is Propaganda crowd but as a way to illustrate how the protagonist of Jenny Deller’s “Future Weather”, a thirteen year old named Lauduree (Perla Haney-Jardine), an uber-passionate environmentalist, comes to embody a form of denial not unlike the anti-climate changers she so despises. We are what we hate, or something.

Trailer trash in the literal sense of the term, friendless and okay with it, clinging to the two-member afterschool science club taught by Ms. Markovi (Lili Taylor), Lauduree is bottled up in and consumed by neurosis and insecurity. It’s not hard to understand why. Her mother, Tanya (Marin Ireland), is a flake, a vaguely defined wannabe makeup artist who seems more like a big sister to her daughter than an actual mother. One morning Lauduree wakes to find her only parent has packed a bag and split for the left coast. Self-dependent to a fault, she perseveres without telling anyone, walking the two miles to school and the store, until her circumstances are revealed and Greta (Amy Madigan), a caustic, alcoholic aunt, who dreams of fleeing the opposite direction – for Florida – takes in her niece.

Niece and Aunt struggle to co-exist and eventually Lauduree seeks out Ms. Markovi in the improbable hope that her teacher can somehow become her guardian. It’s painful to watch, and the young girl’s subsequent snap from reality is realistically frightening. She has withdrawn so deep into herself that this one cause she clings to is the only way she can communicate, and the only way she can communicate is with anger. As such, “Future Weather” becomes about the necessity of releasing that anger, or at least re-channeling it in a healthier fashion.

It’s a coming-of-age tale and while it follows familiar beats of the genre, it is refreshingly never rote. Neither is Lauduree’s meteorological fixation simple window dressing nor the filmmaker haphazardly inserting a personal cause into her project. Rather climate change and the idea of how easy it is to turn a blind eye toward it in the here and now, thereby leaving future generations to suffer, comes to crystallize the fragile family at “Future Weather’s” core. Tanya, too young and too irresponsible, has utterly no grasp on the consequences of her actions. Lauduree is smart enough to recognize the crumbling state of her existence but would prefer to deny it, instead pouring herself into an ecological crusade, desperate for the future and ready to ditch the present. Greta, played exquisitely by Madigan with gruff complication, is the one person capable of setting herself aside, however bitterly, for the sake of her child. She’s the hero without being the Hero, because this is one film that knows subject matter so weighted was never meant to be viewed as black or white.

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