Backed by an effective if nuanced performance by the great Isabelle Huppert, this drama says quite a fair bit about how contemplation and self-reflection might help us to accept the curveballs that life throws at us.
Dir. Mia Hansen-Love
2016 | France | Drama | 102 mins | 1.85:1 | French & English
NC16 (passed clean) for brief language and drug use
Cast: Isabelle Huppert, André Marcon, Roman Kolinka
Plot: A philosophy teacher soldiers through the curveballs that life throws at her.
Awards: Won Best Director (Berlin)
International Sales: Les Films du Losange
Subject Matter: Moderate
Narrative Style: Slightly Complex
Pace: Slightly Slow
Audience Type: Slightly Arthouse
Viewed: The Projector (French Film Festival 2019)
One of the highest-awarded films of her career, Things to Come won Mia Hansen-Love the Best Director prize at the Berlin International Film Festival.
She directs Isabelle Huppert in an effective if nuanced performance as Nathalie, a philosophy teacher who seems to have everything going well for her—a family, a stable career, a fulfilling intellectual life, etc.
However, as life inevitably throws one curveball after another at Nathalie, Hansen-Love seeks to assure us that the ‘things to come’ aren’t necessarily bad.
There could be newfound opportunities, relationships, and perhaps most importantly, a new way of thinking about life. The film’s grounding in philosophy, both in plot and approach, parallels Nathalie’s state of mind, as she seeks clarity amid confusion.
“I thought you would love me forever.”
The director also seems to suggest that having a contemplative mind might allow occasions for self-reflection, and through Nathalie’s calm and focused demeanour in times of stress, we vicariously experience how something like that might occur.
It may be an arthouse-type work about loneliness, life’s disappointments and uncertainties, but Things to Come is a film so filled with warmth that through Nathalie’s personal exploits and self-reconciliatory efforts, we feel moments of life’s quiet joys even when things are looking down for her.
It is to the credit of Hansen-Love for imbuing her work with such grace and sensitivity, when she could have made a downright depressing film for the sake of art. There is no overacting and no pretenses in dramatisation.
To be content is surely the most difficult thing in life.