No Future, 2020.
Directed by Andrew Irvine and Mark Smoot.
Starring Catherine Keener, Charlie Heaton, Rosa Salazar, Jackie Earle Haley, Austin Amelio and Jefferson White.
Will (Charlie Heaton) is a recovering drug addict with a good job, nice home and steady girlfriend Becca (Rosa Salazar). When an old friend Chris (Jefferson White) pays him a visit one night to chew over old times, a series of events are set in motion which change everything.
This dialled back character piece features some barnstorming performances from all concerned. Charlie Heaton does his best to break the typecasting of Stranger Things, while Rosa Salazar proves there is life beyond Alita: Battle Angel. Elsewhere amongst the cast are solid gold turns from Jackie Earle Haley and a haggard Catherine Keener.
As Claire, she carries the burden of grief and emotional isolation in a film which tackles some difficult issues. Jefferson White might play a small role, but proves pivotal in starting Charlie Heaton’s Will off down a slippery slope. Grief saturates every scene, while betrayal is borne of temptation, loneliness and sub-conscious accountability.
Fortunately, directors Andrew Irvine and Mark Smoot ensure that No Future is layered enough to maintain audience interest. Moments feel earned rather than staged, while Catherine Keener and Charlie Heaton work hard to sell this reality. Both characters deal with different ends of addiction and its aftermath, as conflicting emotions bring them together.
No Future addresses the stigma and lack of trust which builds up between addicts and their loved ones. Blame in this film is tangible, as past events undermine any attempt at reconciliation. Jackie Earle Harley is essential in driving this point home as Will’s father Philip. Isolated from a son who can offer no recompense, he seeks companionship yet is incapable of feeling love without guilt. That comes through as emotional detachment and unrelenting bitterness towards his son.
Allegorically, No Future is a story of good people gone bad as addiction erodes them from within. Solace is also in short supply, as pent-up recriminations destroy anything of worth. Writer Mark Smoot may have fashioned something unremittingly bleak here, but the power of No Future comes through its stark depiction of lives defined by addiction.
Claire resonates in the hands of Catherine Keener. Something that could have been cliched, stereotypical or one note is far from it. Her instability is barely cloaked by years of emotional abuse at the hands of an addict. That this addict happened to be her son, has blinded her to the notion that recovery or redemption might never happen. For that reason, it is a portrayal liable to promote plaudits and column inches in equal measure.
To say that No Future pulls no punches and sugar coats even less is an understatement. Bad decisions are brought home to roost in a devastating final frame, as any chance at salvation is lost. Sucker punched into submission by a masterful stroke of misdirection, audiences will be left reeling in the audacious aftermath of something special.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★