Things to Come
In Mia Hansen-Løve’s thoughtful, detailed drama, Isabelle Huppert plays Nathalie, a philosophy professor whose comfortable home life is turned upside-down over the course of a summer, causing her to rethink both her own life and her longstanding philosophical convictions.
One day, Nathalie battles her way to her teaching post through a mob of angry students. The next, her pipe-smoking husband leaves her; the breakup scene is brief but realistic, made all the more powerful by Huppert’s performance. Nathalie admits she was prepared and does not seem upset, only tearing up when realising how much she will miss the family holiday home in Brittany. More tears are shed, however, as, one by one, things start to go wrong in her serene life.
Hansen-Løve perfectly captures Nathalie’s confusion as she drifts through a world in which everyone is younger, more adventurous and less cynical than she. Marketers want to give her classic textbook a trashy modern makeover; her students strike, riot and protest for a cause she cannot remember; her children begin having their own children. We only glimpse her husband’s new lover, but it goes unsaid that she is younger. Nathalie’s ageing mother exists as if to warn her daughter of what she may be in danger of becoming: a presumably unsuccessful actress suffering from frequent depressive episodes, she lives in the past and stays sequestered in her house in a state of faded glamour, like Edie Beale of Grey Gardens.
The film’s only misstep is involving the constant presence of a black cat, adopted by Nathalie from her mother. The subplot leads nowhere, and the clumsy symbolism belongs to a less-accomplished work. Nevertheless, Things to Come resonates with its simplicity and honesty, and Huppert creates a memorable character. Her sweeping remark, “after 40, women are fit for the trash,” is a bleak, cynical statement at odds with a practical and positive movie.
Things to Come is released nationwide on 2nd September 2016.
Watch the trailer for Things to Come here: