With a title like No Future and a narrative detailing the recovery of addicts and the potential grief and fear of relapsing that comes with that territory, Andrew Irvine and Mark Smoot‘s drama isn’t exactly reaching for subtlety.
It’s a simplistic script that takes few risks in straying from the expected, but superb, committed performances from Catherine Keener and Charlie Heaton as the unlikeliest of lovers keep this dark telling reasonably afloat.
Heaton stars as Will, a rehab-attending addict who is starting to see the lightness of a future thanks to Becca (Rosa Salazar), “the only thing keeping him sober”. She’s a comforting, understanding presence in his life, and him choosing her one night over the unexpectedly visiting Chris (Jefferson White), an old friend connected to Will’s dark past, results in a state of grief when he finds out the next day that Chris has passed away from an overdose.
Harbouring the guilt of dismissing the estranged Chris, Will’s fragility is tested, with his misconduct leading him to a secretive affair with Chris’s mother, Claire (Keener), she too finding a numbness to her trauma in their dalliance. As much as you can sense that Claire is aware what she’s doing is wrong and Will expresses throughout how much Becca has saved his life, their connection being something of an extension of what they both had with Chris makes their wrongdoing an understandable act.
Whether it’s right or wrong isn’t really what Will and Claire’s relationship is about, it’s about the escape and the comprehension that is lacking in their other alliances. Chris’s father (Jackie Earle Haley) immediately thinks of his wrongdoing when Claire approaches him about his death, whilst the freshness of Will’s relationship with Becca means he’s scared to let her see his flaws related to his sobriety. Will and Claire are avoiding facets of reality with their affair, but the Irvine/Smoot-penned script mostly avoids placing any distinct blame on this choice.
Whilst No Future could have absolutely benefitted from a deviation from its standard story, the performances of Keener and Heaton – and Salazar too, providing strong work with a character who so easily could have made herself forgettable – give this a strength it otherwise wouldn’t have achieved. A quiet film that aims for uncomfortable realism over being entertaining, Irvine and Smoot prove their future may be fruitful should they continue to illicit such nuanced performances in spite of median material.
THREE STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
No Future is screening as part of this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, which is being presented both virtually and physically between June 9th – 20th, 2021. For more information head to the official Tribeca page.