As a man who once directed a film, The Last Woman (1976) aka La Dernière femme aka L'ultima donna, where a sexually potent proletarian castrates his meaty member because he cannot handle the sexual power that a young little bodacious bitch with nice tits has over him, Italian auteur Marco Ferreri (La Grande Bouffe, Bye Bye Monkey) was probably the most likely filmmaker to come up with a self-cuckolding film title like The Future Is Woman (1984) aka Il futuro è donna. Indeed, while the title of Ferreri’s film refers to the fact that women literally are the future of humanity in that they reproduce and carry on mankind, it is also a figurative remark regarding the dominant position that women will take in the future in all regards, or so one would assume after watching a film where the male protagonist, a bourgeois communist male of the mentally and physically weak sort, dies pathetically after being trampled by a bunch of goofy goombah music fans while protecting his wife, who only becomes all the more stronger after her husband's grizzly premature death. Ferreri’s second and final collaboration with Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s main muse Hanna Schygulla, who previously starred in the director’s somewhat inferior work The Story of Piera (1983) aka Storia di Piera, The Future Is Woman is more or less a morbid and sometimes even grotesque quasi-melodrama that depicts how the ostensible ‘revolutionaries’ of the Marxist far-left student movement of the late-1960s, as well as the Italian bourgeoisie (of course, most of these armchair revolutionaries came from middleclass backgrounds), have gotten weak and passive and, quite thankfully, will die out soon as they are too spiritually and physically impotent to produce progeny. Depicting a troubled ménage à trios between Schygulla, Guido Goddess Ornella Muti (who previously starred in Ferreri’s The Last Woman and Tales of Ordinary Madness), and goofy ½ Danish frog Niels Arestrup (The Beat That My Heart Skipped, A Prophet), Ferreri's work is surely a rare quasi-feminist flick that is not banal as hell, though it might make the viewer question whether or not auteur Ferreri was seriously considering becoming an eunuch at the time he made the film, as a somewhat matriarchal work where virtually all of the male characters are weak, meek, and passive. Featuring an upbeat Italo-disco soundtrack with numerous highly addictive songs like “Banana” by Jane Chiquita, Hanna Schygulla dancing around ecstatically in a crowded club while sporting quite unbecoming black 1980s spandex pants, a rather therapeutic scene where a wussy guy who likes wearing Che Guevara t-shirts gets his skull crushed, and seedy skinheads picking on hot pregnant goombah gals by threatening to punch them in the stomach, Ferreri’s film is certainly a curious celluloid oddity of sorts, even if for the most part it lacks the director’s signature sardonic humor. The partly tragic but ultimately ‘uplifting’ (especially for a Ferreri flick!) tale of a steadily aging married middle-aged couple of the new left sort who refuse to have children of their own, only to have their views tested upon providing shelter and sex to a young pregnant chick who describes herself as a “warrior,” The Future Is Woman is a rare cinematic marriage between 1980s aesthetic Euro-cheese and avant-garde arthouse pretense that has aged quite gracefully over the years.
While hanging out at an ostensibly ‘hip’ and ‘happening’ Italo-disco club called Marabu Music Hall, a failed leftist revolutionary/tree-mover named Gordon (Niels Arestrup) manages to successfully find his wife Anna (Hanna Schygulla) among all the people in the big building while blindfolded. As his friends remark, Gordon will do anything for Anna and he has no problem tracking her merely by tracking out her particular scent. After playing the game, Anna, who symbolically refuses to reverse roles and play the blindfolded game, spots a pregnant young woman named Malvina (Ornella Muti) crying for help as she is being roughed up by a couple young Guido guys, including a skinhead, so she comes to the rescue. Despite being married, Anna agrees to “fuck” the men if they leave Malvina alone, though she never actually carries out her half of the deal. Unbeknownst to Anna, Malvina, who is five or six months pregnant (she is not actually sure), has chosen her to become the adoptive mother of her unborn child. A bourgeois commie of sorts who has become a passive whore of capitalism as an ‘artist’/designer who works in the cultural department of a megastore, Anna has a bizarre obsession with projecting stock footage of dead children from Hiroshima and other historical atrocities over photos of Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich while hanging out in her office. In fact, Anna has giant busts of Garbo and Dietrich—two highly independent and individualistic women who, not unlike the protagonist, attempted to act like men and lacked many traditional female traits—commissioned for her store, though the customers are ultimately repelled by the gigantic diva sculptures. Unquestionably, as his friends recognize, Gordon worships Anna but she treats her somewhat effeminate hubby like the slavish ½ man that he is. Of course, it only becomes a matter of time before Anna becomes quite irked by the fact that her groveling husband begins to give some of his attention to a young salacious chick like Malvina, who has the gall to complain, “what about me?,” while watching the married couple have fetish-fueled sex. Indeed, in no time, a juicy ménage à trois blossoms between the three but it ends just as quickly as it began.
Naturally, when Malvina moves in with the somewhat unconventional married couple, Anna almost instantly becomes jealous of her young rival and soon attempts to throw the knocked up homeless girl out of her humble abode. Indeed, Anna not only accuses Malvina of stealing her life and home, but the unborn baby as well. Rather absurdly, Malvina attempts to appeal to Gordon's discernibly fragile ego by telling him that he looks like Marlon Brando (even though he looks more like Klaus Kinski had his head been squashed) and naturally the middle-aged man is quite flattered by the young lady’s attention. Of course, as a man that digs his teeth into his wife's derriere on command like a little dog, Gordon is a slave of Anna who, although somewhat of a jealous bitch, at least temporarily allows her hubby the opportunity of a lifetime of partaking in a threesome with a young pregnant girl. While a domineering and somewhat masculinized alpha-chick (undoubtedly, her dyke-like haircut accentuates her 'manliness') who carries around her spouse’s tiny testicles in her purse, Anna eventually becomes an unwitting slave of sorts to Malvina, demanding nice meals (especially chicken) and other sorts of things for the benefit of her unborn baby. When Anna’s jealousy of Malvina becomes too unbearable after she catches the pregnant babe modelling one of her fancy dresses for Gordon, she kicks the young lady out of her home and makes a pathetic failed attempt at suicide. Of course, Anna later has second thoughts and Malvina once again reenters her and her husband’s life just as if nothing has happened. Although a patent pansy and pathetic pervert who says sick stuff like, “If I were a father, I’d like to make love to my daughter…And not get my nose and ears cut off as punishment,” and is reduced to tears merely because his wife is late getting home one night, Gordon is certainly an uncompromising protector of both Anna and Malvina and when a riot breaks out at a large concert after a bunch of music fans storm the arena after being denied entry, he even dies protecting the two special ladies in his life after someone steps on his skull. After having Gordon cremated at what looks like some sort of futuristic concentration camp, Anna develops a deeper bond with Malvina that resembles a sort of warped mother-daughter relationship. One night while hanging out at an isolated beach in the country, Anna tells Malvina to expose her stomach to the moon, which induces labor in the little lady. In the end, Malvina’s ‘maternal mission’ is accomplished, as she gives Anna her baby so she can continue living her life as a wanton wandering young woman who has no problem accidentally getting pregnant and pawning off her children to other people.
Unquestionably, one of the most potent and memorable things about The Future Is Woman is its rather singular depiction of the superficially ‘zany’ yet reactionary (indeed, during one scene, Gordon is harassed and searched by the cops merely because he is playing soccer late at night) zeitgeist in which it was made. Indeed, depicting a time when one’s fashion sense was more important than their personality and personal integrity, far-left politics had grown even more stale and vapid, cocaine was consumed as much as Coca-Cola (in one rather grotesque scene, Anna finds the pale corpse of an Italo-Disco fan who snorted one-too-many lines), and new and more ‘inhuman’ forms of authoritarian technocracy began to consume the Occidental world, Ferreri’s film ultimately demonstrated that Wop-land was not much different from America at that time, though those gregarious Guidos certainly had greater music and a more refined fashion sense, not to mention more exotically erotic women. In its depiction of a deracinated ‘modern’ post-feminist woman of the rather bitchy sort who has complete control over her husband and who ultimately becomes the (pseudo)mother of a child sired from a classically feminine woman that probably flunked one of those absurdly easy feminist indoctrination courses they have in college, The Future Is Woman seems to, quite absurdly, argue that the children of the future must be reared and educated by frigid self-centered single mothers. In that sense, Ferreri seems like a postmodern prophet, as single-mothers with bastard children have become quite the growing phenomenon in the western world, especially in the United States where a woman, especially a so-called ‘woman of color,’ can jumpstart a workless career merely by allowing herself to get knocked up by the most degenerate of criminal thugs, thus securing herself a nice big welfare check that only grows larger with each extra bastard baby spawned. Of course, Schygulla’s character is depicted as the height of female sophistication and cultivation and not as a morbidly obese sub-literate welfare queen. Indeed, as a sort of spiritual daughter of bisexual Aryan bitches Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich (notably, the latter of whom died single and childless), protagonist Anna fits in with what Viennese Jewish philosopher Otto Weininger described as the ‘prostitute’ type (as opposed to ‘mother’ type) of woman who, although highly intelligent and completely emancipated from man, more or less lacks all the necessary maternal qualities one needs to be a decent mother yet Ferreri absurdly makes her a mommy in the end. While I found the film to have a somewhat incoherent and rather dubious message, The Future Is Woman is most certainly one of Ferreri’s most underrated and overlooked yet strangely accessible works, as a film that, in terms of style, is like a Guido Liquid Sky (1982) minus the satirical sci-fi element with a tinge of late period Buñuel as directed by a lapsed Marxist feminist cuckold whose greatest dream is to sacrifice himself for his bitchy significant other by dying in a brutal fashion. Indeed, like many Mediterranean men, especially of the Italian persuasion, Ferreri seemed to accept his position as a member of the ostensibly inferior sex.