Fantasia Film Festival 2022
Relax, I’m from the Future Review
There are few things as terrifying as the uncertainty of the future. As horrific events transpire and the world seems like it’s slowly disintegrating before our very eyes, it’s easy to lose hope. However, what if someone came back from the future and said “everything’s going to be alright”? Would that make things better? Relax, I’m from the Future positions itself around the idealistic belief that everything will work out while humorously exploring the consequences of things just being “good”. Luke Higginson’s feature directorial debut is fascinating and entertaining in equal measure, anchored by a hilarious performance from Rhys Darby.
Opening a portal to the past so he can carry out a plan that will save the world, Casper (Darby) does not seem like the kind of person with a lot of ambition. Now trapped in the past to enact his plan, his first steps in the modern day appear to be outrunning Doris (Janine Theriault) before she vaporizes him, then attending a punk concert and witnessing a future artist (Julian Richings) in his final days. Casper’s actions seem guided but erratic at the same time as he entrusts Holly (Gabrielle Graham) with lottery numbers so she can get rich but cannot live a lavish lifestyle to avoid attention. Then there’s the bunker he hides in on Chuck’s (Zachary Bennett) land, away from prying eyes and without any mention of what exactly he’s doing to anyone.
There’s inherent silliness to Relax, I’m from the Future because it hinges itself upon a character who is not particularly smart but has all the answers thanks to being from the future. Darby is perfectly cast in the role, providing that bumbling charm that he’s always presented with sincerity and heartfelt commitment. When Casper’s “plan” is finally revealed, Darby’s casting and subsequent performance takes the apparent incompetence of its protagonist and effectively employs it narratively.
It’s the understanding and acceptance that everything is nice and peachy in the future that makes Relax, I’m from the Future far more engrossing than the typical time travel film. Its comedy can be hit-or-miss at times, but the concept is explored with a sincerity that seems derived from modern-day anxieties. It’s a comforting blanket but also begs the question of what is the point of struggling to fight injustices and solving the world’s problems when the endpoint is known to be good. Higginson’s focus on characters that are aimless and worn down by the world around them gives the film that added layer of complexity it needs to be more than just a humorous and novel concept.
Relax, I’m from the Future is also interesting in how it carries itself tonally. There’s a level of aloofness and sarcastic wit to everyone that embodies a generation that seems to care about the world but can’t commit to actually doing anything to better it. Doris is the only character that has a sense of purpose, which makes her inability to really connect with anyone meshes well with the idea of doing something for someone else’s benefit. It’s a thoroughly fleshed-out screenplay with characters who feel relatable and authentic, even if their circumstances are absurd.
Outside of its screenplay, direction, and lead performance, Relax I’m from the Future can be a bit one-note at times. The tonal consistency of every character being slightly sarcastic or demonstrably naïve only lends to a repetition that can occasionally stall the film’s enjoyment. Though its momentum keeps at a relatively comfortable pace, it’s at the service of interesting, well-explored concepts done in a redundant manner. It’s a minor blight on an otherwise enjoyable science-fiction romp.
As far as science-fiction comedies go, it’s occasionally difficult to find ones that can assuredly deliver on both its science-fiction premise and the desired humor. Laughs at the expense of a cool idea are a dime a dozen in any comedy, but Relax, I’m from the Future manages to skirt those concerns by finding the humor in its characters as opposed to its premise. While hijinks ensue and there’s no shortage of happenstance, it all stems from a natural inquisitiveness with the state of the world today and whether it matters if it gets better or not. A surprisingly salient survey of modern-day problems through the perspective of someone else’s solutions, Higginson crafts a contemporary examination of anxiety that is both thoughtful and funny.
The 26th edition of the Fantasia International Film Festival will run from July 14 – August 3, 2022.