Cinequest 2022: Futra Days

Traveling forward in time isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, as Sean Graves learns the hard way. He’s supposed to spy on his future self to determine if he should pursue a new romantic love interest. Even though he’s warned to not interfere, Sean decides he has to investigate for himself the tension between the man who he is now and who he will become. Even more dauntingly, once Sean is sent back to the past, “Future Sean” has to deal with the consequences of all the versions of his multiple selves’ actions.

OK, Futra Days, I came for the time travel, I stayed for the unique experiment in storytelling.

This is not your usual time travel story, but we’ll get back to that. Let me dance through this with as few spoilers as possible, and explain why this film is special, and may actually benefit from a second viewing.

The story begins with Sean learning of a strange fringe organization that is experimenting with time travel. They are in an early, invitation only period of getting established. Once enlisted, preparation requires the potential traveler has to be versed in this, immersed in various physical and psychological training, as if preparing them or enabling them to handle the effect of the trip. Our time traveler is not the stereotypical wild-eyed science guy. He’s in the record business, and he’s worried about relationship issues and his own level of commitment.

The actual mechanics of travel is acceptable for this story’s purposes, and as in any science fiction story you have to suspend disbelief. It’s fairly low budget, but that really doesn’t matter.

The dialogue is sprinkled with various time theories, some competing, some complementary. Quotes from Göedel, Einstein, perhaps others, along with a large helping of other self-actualization techniques and theories. There is apparently a lot happening behind the scenes to trigger the traveling. There is a better than average 2001-style psychedelic transition… and then the harder science fiction aspects are, for the most part, done.

Having arrived, the traveler assumes the role of his future self; his life with his girlfriend, a singer whose career he’s helped along. There’s no shortness in personal baggage here on all sides. Mental health issues, drugs, future regret, fragile sexy moments, and questions as to why their relationship is where it is.

“Reality” occasionally spasms, like a fold in a videotape playback, just to remind us that we are in the midst of a journey, and perhaps warn us that not all is well.

We become concerned about the duality of the traveler’s being there, the inherent lie of pretending to be his future self. The lack of the memory of the history of time he’s trying to investigate complicates relationships and emotional reactions. Pre and post trip emotional issues seem to transfer between him and his long-term girlfriend.

The butterfly effect refers to present day changes a time traveler might cause by changing the past. Supposedly this is not in play because his trip is into the future. But upon his returning to the present, are we seeing a new kind of butterfly effect because of his actions in the future? Or is it something else? And what of the version of himself now affected in the future.

Actors Tania Raymonde and Brandon Sklenar do remarkable jobs of balancing where they are and their character’s relative attitudes and abilities throughout the film. Not to detract from Sklenar’s work which is excellent, but Raymonde, by the nature of her role, is particularly seamless in her transitions from compelling and inviting, to perhaps dangerous and unpredictable. She is definitely entertaining to watch.

Most time travel stories have to do with the effect of displaced information, and how it changes the present, intentionally or otherwise. But this time, we’re dealing with mental health, emotions, realizing potential, or not.

Or just taking a chance regardless.

Yes, you should take a chance on Futra Days.

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Ric Bretschneider
August 20, 2022
San Jose California

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