Dating Is Awkward In Any Dimension [SXSW 2023]

Speaking of which, SNL’s Aristotle Athari and “Girls” alumni Zosia Mamet shoulder “Molli and Max in the Future” like competition bodybuilders. Their chemistry rockets into orbit as warriors on the battlefield of love, navigating friend zones, crippling vulnerability, and fulfilling partnerships with the most honest portrayals despite sitcom cheesy comedy. It’s about their uncertain back and forths, the hesitation as they desperately seek answers that might save them both tremendous pain should they ever try dating and fail. Max is always in love with Mollie, and Athari withholds his crush behind disappointed chuckles like a champion. Mamet is the speed talker and straight shooter who chatters while embracing her character’s lack of filter that leads to so much scathing social-anxiety humor. They’re meant for each other in professional terms, superpowered to the point where “Molli and Max in the Future” handily stands against studio sci-fi pictures on performances alone.

Ambition propels “Molli and Max in the Future” with hyperspeed boosters, although it’s not a buttery smooth ride throughout. Litwak mirrors his parallel dimension after our earthly experience, so he not only bites into dating commentaries like online apps but — to a detriment — addresses finding comfort throughout the Trump presidency (Michael Chernus hilariously plays trashy candidate Turboschmuck) and unraveling happiness during COVID-19 lockdowns. Molli and Max’s will they, won’t they gathers so much momentum as they keep reuniting and recalling their latest follies apart, but later chapters with direct contemporary American reflections are a minor step back. There’s so much expressive ridiculousness as Max rises through the ranks as a battle bot operator and Molli comes to terms with her sex cult community, which is where “Molli and Max in the Future” conceptually thrives. Something gets lost in translation when facades fully disappear, but not enough to log any detrimental complaints.

The truth is, “Molli and Max in the Future” is one of the better explorations of love put to film in recent memory. Molli and Max are allowed to be infinitely messy, apologetically imperfect, foolish individuals because relationships are sometimes sloppy, complicated, and cause us to do irrational things — but they also give life meaning and inspire us to be better. The same way Michael Lukk Litwak will inspire generations of filmmakers to tell their stories with whatever means available because screenplays this expressive and fearless will forever shine like beacons of originality. The do-it-yourself wholesomeness of special effects is just the cherry on top. Bless Zosia Mamet and Aristotle Athari for opening themselves to every uncomfortable conversational sputter or emotional tailspin in the name of showing dating for what it is, and still finding exceptional optimism through it all. “Molli and Max in the Future” will make you believe in a thing called love — just listen to the rhythm of this knockout indie’s throbbing heart.

/Film Rating: 8 out of 10

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