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‘No Future’ review: Great performances stand out in bleak drama

Emotionally powerful.

No Future is a story about a former addict (Charlie Heaton) whose life seems to be headed in the right direction. He soon makes the decision to return home after an old friend has died due to an overdose. Will goes back to the place he worked so hard to leave and meets with the mother (Catherine Keener) of the deceased. While there, the two are forced to confront the past and examine decisions they have made.

The plot deals in themes that make it, an unsurprisingly emotional one. The film takes an unflinching look at its main characters. This includes some intimate deep dives that take the audience on an unpleasant roller coaster of grief, denial, and anger. It is clear early on that No Future will wallow in darker areas, but that does not make it any easier to watch.

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Also making things difficult to watch – though in an entirely different way – is the belabored writing. For as much delicacy is put in the making the characters well rounded, it is surprising to see how blunt and even clumsy the dialogue can be. All conversations are on the nose, leaving little room for subtlety or nuance. It is the weakest part of No Future, by far.

No matter how much eye-rolling the script may cause, the performances are outstanding. Heaton brings dimension in what is set up to be a stereotypical role. He is more than just an addicted struggling to stay clean while dealing with insecurities. Obviously, there is a lot of that, but Will cannot be just defined as a former addict. 

Keener is remarkable and the stand out of No Future. Again, the script has her walk through many of the familiar paces. She struggles to figure out what went wrong while trying to discern why her son had to die. Keener makes Claire seem like something more even in the most recognizable moments. When things step outside the boundaries of a normal drug addiction drama, Claire shines.

The problem with movies about overcoming addiction is they are almost forced to follow a set formula to be effective. Each one, has to see its characters suffer, overcome, struggle, then succeed. No Future attempts to do things differently. In doing so, it allows its stars to show off their talents. When the film is forced into a box, things become very difficult to watch due to poor scripting.  

No Future comes to theaters and VOD October 22

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