Dir/scr: Alicia Scherson. Chile-Italy-Spain. 2013. 94mins


Alicia Scherson’s mannered and times perversely mesmerising film is an intriguing look at psychologically damaged people struggling to find moments of love and affection in a world conspiring against them.

Though Hauer’s character doesn’t come onto the scene until half way through the film, he gives TheFuture a much-needed boost of his very individual persona.

The film – which screened at Sundance and Rotterdam – is driven by two very different central performances…from Manuela Martelli, as a young woman cast adrift at the start of her adult life and having to look after her younger brother and from Rutger Hauer as the man who has a profound impact on her.

As The Future (Il Futuro) opens Bianca (Martelli) and her brother Tomas (Luigi Ciardo) have lost their parents in car crash. Because Bianca is just old enough to become Tomas’s guardian, the pair live together in their Rome home, able to access some money from their father’s trust while their mother’s funds are tied up.

She picks up work to supplement the trust funds while Tomas starts working in a local gym, where he is befriended by two bodybuilders (played by Nicolas Vaporidis and Alessandro Giallocosta). They propose a dark scheme to make money, that involves having Bianca infiltrate the house of blind former Mr. Universe-cum-actor Maciste (Rutger Hauer).

His needs are essentially sexual. Inside his big, moody and dark house the two bodybuilders think there is a safe, and Bianca is there to search for it. But she allows herself to be Maciste’s plaything, stripping naked – and often smeared with oil – and available at his beck and call. The film – based on Roberto Bolaño’s novella - impressively balances footage of his muscle-man films with them in bed together.

In truth, though, rather than him simply using her, Bianca is using this older man – a father figure – as a means of her own recovery, and her own power and sense of control enables her to finally move on. Though Hauer’s character doesn’t come onto the scene until half way through the film, he gives The Future a much-needed boost of his very individual persona…though the initial set up is nicely structured, the film needs the surreal and gently perverse relationship to help its momentum.

Production company: Jirafa Films

International sales: Visit Films, www.visitfilms.com

Producer: Bruno Bettati

Cinematography: Ricardo de Angelis

Editors: Soledad Salfate, Ana Alvarez Ossorio

Production designers: Tim Pannen, Marta Zani, Sebastián Muñoz

Music: Eduardo Henriquez, Caroline Chaspoul

Website: http://www.jirafa.cl/#!il-futuro/ctou

Main cast: Manuela Martelli, Luigi Ciardo, Rutger Hauer, Alessandro Giallocosta, Nicolas Vaporidis