Lucy Popescu

freedom to write, review, travel…

Film review – Things to Come

Posted by lucypopescu on September 8, 2016

Things to ComeMia Hansen-Løve’s fifth feature, Things to Come, starring Isabelle Huppert, is an introspective exploration of a woman losing her moorings and facing up to old age. Huppert plays Nathalie, a high school philosophy teacher. When Heinz (André Marcon), her husband of twenty-five years, also a philosophy lecturer, admits he has met someone else, she asks “Why did you tell me?” When he reveals that he is going to move in with her, Nathalie responds “I thought you would love me forever.” It’s a heart breaking moment, haunting in its simplicity. But for the most part, Hansen-Løve’s screenplay tackles profound questions with an intensity that some film goers might find off-putting.

Nathalie is delivered a series of emotional blows which cause her to question her own sense of self. Not only does she separate from her husband, a short time after she also loses her mother, Yvette. (Edith Scob delivers a terrific performance as a vain, demanding, former model, aging gracelessly). Yvette runs her daughter ragged, phoning her at all hours, threatening to commit suicide and refusing to eat, until Nathalie is forced to put her in a care home. There Yvette’s health quickly deteriorates – as though to punish her daughter for having put her there. Natalie’s children have left home and after Yvette’s death she is left with only her mother’s obese cat, Pandora, for company. She is suddenly free of all ties, but conversely this dents her confidence; her life loses direction and the paths to wellbeing she teaches her students seem harder to follow.

Nathalie’s academic reputation is also threatened when she is abruptly dropped by her publisher who deems her philosophy text book to be unimaginatively presented, despite the durability of the essays it contains. Then her protégé, Fabien (Roman Kolinka), a young writer, deserts her, both intellectually and geographically, by moving to a remote farmhouse and joining a commune of anarchists. Despite her growing vulnerability, Nathalie battles bravely on, continuing to teach and finding solace in her books. But one of the questions explored by Hansen-Løve is whether intellectual independence ever be an adequate substitute for emotional security?

Huppert’s finely nuanced portrayal of Nathalie’s interior life and her conflicting emotions is impressive. Beautifully shot by Denis Lenoir, Things to Come is a poignant study of aging and loss given an quintessentially French treatment by Hansen-Løve, but it never fully ignites. Although there is the suggestion that Nathalie’s life will acquire new meaning through the birth of her grandchild, her future is plagued by uncertainty and just as her emotional journey meanders without actually arriving anywhere, so does the film.

Originally published by http://www.cine-vue.com

 

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