SXSW: Low-Tech Surprises Coupled with Charm Make Molli and Max in the Future FUN

We have come to expect high-dollar special effects, vivid computer-generated imagery, and wild action in movies these days, especially science fiction.  Molli and Max in the Future, which screened at SXSW 2023, from writer/director Michael Lukk Litwak, stays focused on the leads’ quirky chemistry and not on special effects, offering up an out-of-this-world rom-com filled with charm. Litwak uses super low-tech, greenscreen imagery and relies on his delightfully droll leads to carry his story. While Litwak’s deliberate simplicity takes a bit of getting used to, stars Zosia Mamet and Aristotle Athari delight with their witty and cleverly timed banter.

Molli and Max (Mamet and Athari) meet by chance after a mid-air space cruiser accident – it is the future after all. The pair immediately hits it off, but only as friends. The film spans twelve years of friendship, three dimensions, four different planets, a couple of failed relationships, and a cult. With Litwak’s sets Furturama-like, viewers can almost imagine the strings on which spacecraft and stars are hung. It’s amusing to see the old-school specials and funky greenscreen edges, made more fun by the droll dialogue delightfully delivered by Marmet and Athari. A diverting sense of relatability draws viewers into the lives of the film’s characters –  no need for splashy action sequences or long-drawn-out moral speeches. The characters, the chemistry of its leads, and Litwak’s well-chosen soundtrack make for a great time from start to finish.

Honestly, I did not know what to expect when I entered the Stateside for the screening, and when I saw the production’s low-techiness, I had doubts about how it could play out well. The charm began and continued throughout, and Litwak provided his cast with plenty to discuss. Mamet is particularly amusing with her well-timed delivery, and her classic reactions are humorous and endearing. Athari, more of the straight man, rounds out the pair, and we are luckier for being a part of their friendship.

Litwak’s decision to shoot against a modular LED volume to create his cosmic universe to tell a futuristic love story works. Litwak’s quirky choices and even quirkier characters make Molli and Max in the Future charming and completely watchable. I am not sure about the film’s release date or platform, but it is so worth a look. I am placing four stars up top. Molli and Max in the Future is proof filmmakers do not to spend millions of dollars to create a good movie.

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