All romanticisms and cynicisms aside, what significance does the possibility of a do-over have? The former is usually drenched in unbearable saccharinity, and the latter thrives on nay-saying every grain of hope. But reality demands balance. Mundanity even, one could argue. So what does that in-between scenario look like? John Manna’s 19-minute Forty Years From Now offers an answer.
As the title suggests, the plot revolves around predictions of a future forty years away. In a can buried by four high school boys in 1980, there are four sets of predictions and secrets. As well as $20, to be split in four. The film opens on John (Richard Lounello), doing his best to dig up the can of the future (as it has been named) from his old neighbour’s property, undetected. The tense mood of the scene belies the light nature of the story, heavily nostalgic though it is. At the local pub, as he wistfully observes a young couple, the rest of the main cast show up. Mike (Kevin Edward Miller) and Rich (John F. Higgins). The fourth, Alfred, as we find out, is dead. They head out to Alfred’s grave, so as to open the can together, just as planned.
Their secrets and predictions are varyingly funny, silly, and bittersweet. Old wounds are touched on, some deeper than others. Here, as the characters relive their old days, the ease between the actors is obvious, making the decades-old friendship of the characters completely believable. Well placed actions and dialogues do an excellent job of adding depth and texture to each character. The screenplay ties anecdotes together into a coherent story, guised innocuously as private jokes and nostalgia.
Nostalgia is, of course, a significant undercurrent of the story. Everything is coloured by it. The characters’ actions are dictated by it. When another old friend from school shows up, nostalgia and the past take on a bigger role yet. Still reeling from newly discovered secrets (taken to the literal grave), John finds himself facing a second chance he had never expected. Manna exercises restraint, and the film flourishes for it: neither the characters, nor the audience can predict what comes next, even if things point to positive.
Watch Forty Years From Now Short Film Trailer
Forty Years From Now: The Perils (And Possible Perks) Of Indulging In Nostalgia