Photo Courtesy of Tribeca.

2023 Tribeca Festival: “The Future” Review

Editor’s Note: This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labour of the actors and writers involved in the project(s) mentioned here, Pages and Pictures would not exist. Pages and Pictures stands firmly behind WGA and SAG-AFTRA members as they fight for fair labour conditions. 

The Future is a tense political thriller with a topical message for our time. This Israeli drama had a difficult task in presenting a nuanced portrait of an incredibly complex geopolitical issue. While the end result may be imperfect, this is an ambitious project that has a surprising amount of heart. A movie like this could have so easily gotten crushed underneath the weight of its own drama. Instead, this is a perfectly tense package that asks big questions and flips assumptions for a riveting experience. 

The movie follows the aftermath of the assassination of Israel’s fictional Minister of Space and Tourism. Yaffa (Samar Qupty), an Arab university student, confesses to the murder. Israeli scientist Nurit (Reymond Amsalem) requests to interview Yaffa to get a better sense of her motives. What follows is a back-and-forth battle of wills, with both women sizing each other up over a series of interviews. Nurit has to examine everything she always thought was true about the Israeli space industry and Israeli society as a whole. 

Yaffa is an enthralling character. Her steadfastness and refusal to give up anything makes her incredibly compelling to watch. Watching her principles shine through at the most unexpected moments is what makes her such an engaging protagonist. There’s such a depth to this character, and there’s so much that she holds back. The fact that she keeps the audience guessing at every moment makes anyone watching her question their own assumptions. 

Nurit is an interesting choice for an adversary. In many ways, this feels like the right choice, as to have an antagonist be from the IDF or the secret service would have been an overtly political statement. Having Nurit be a scientist, in a best-case scenario, allows for a more open and honest discussion. By all accounts, this character should be politically evolved enough to identify her own biases and greater systemic factors at play. This character gives viewers permission to interrogate their own biases no matter if one thinks there’s nothing to examine.

The Future manages to maintain a balance between two perspectives without falling into a both-sides trap. This would have made the story weaker. Instead, by leaning into these two characters and their respective motivations, viewers are able to accept shades of grey rather than seeing in black and white. This story with massive stakes can be told on a microscale, which is an effective way to get to know both of these characters more deeply. 

Ultimately, it’s the right choice for this story to lean into the more psychological aspects rather than the political. The tension throughout the story permeates every scene from beginning to end. Not a moment of runtime is wasted. Right up until the end, it’s unclear where this story is going. Rather than growing tiresome, this is an edge-of-your-seat story that doesn’t stop. The larger stakes never get in the way of the highly personal drama.

The Future may not have any grand political commentary to make, and that’s okay. Instead, it’s a perfectly enjoyable psychological thriller set against the backdrop of a real, complex geopolitical reality. The performances and characters ground the story throughout. After all of the thrills and questions, answered and unanswered, this story is liable to make one think more deeply about Israel, Palestine, and the entire region. 

The Future was featured at the 2023 Tribeca Festival

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