From the stark glare of paralyzing grief to the shadow eroticism of a neo-gothic romance, "Il Futuro" makes for a peculiar strain of otherworldly viewing.
An exquisitely shot love-among-the-ruins story adapted by Chilean filmmaker Alicia Scherson from a novel by her late countryman, the cult author Roberto Bolaño, it begins with a pair of dazed, bored teenagers, Bianca (Manuela Martelli) and younger brother Tomas (Luigi Ciardo), facing uncertain times in a rundown Rome apartment following their parents' death from a car accident.
Bianca becomes a haircutter's trainee, while gym employee Tomas finds caretaking companionship in a pair of bodybuilders, who move in, cook, clean, and hatch a scheme to rob a blind, reclusive ex-Mr. Universe and forgotten B-movie strongman known as Maciste (Rutger Hauer). A sexually budding (and frequently oiled and nude) Bianca is the bait, but for this age-divergent pair of lost souls, trysts in his dark, ornately appointed lair begin to take on the air of a fractured fairy tale: something beautifully melancholy and mutually nurturing.
A confident filmmaker, Scherson's fondness for arch formalism and a self-conscious aesthetics of decay sometimes undercuts the emotional terrain being traveled. But the atmospheric heft of "Il Futuro" is invariably more bracing than oppressive, and in the complexly stoic Martelli and masterfully craggy, haunted Hauer, an alluringly opaque pas de deux of loss and uncertainty is wonderfully realized.
MPAA rating: None. In Italian and English, with English subtitles.
Running time: 1 hour, 39 minutes.
Playing: At the NuArt.