Things to Come (2016)

Isabelle Huppert in Things to Come

Dave author pic“The future seems compromised.”

This is how Nathalie’s publishers explain the fragility of her textbook contract, but it speaks more broadly to the themes of Mia Hansen-Løve’s Things to Come. The film follows the gentle dissolution of everything philosopher teacher Nathalie (Isabelle Huppert) has come to take for granted – her marriage, her job, her family – all the while suggesting such loss is inevitable. The melodramatic material is treated with très français nonchalance; while Nathalie might burst into tears in private, her outward reaction to such seismic changes is little more than an exasperated shrug. (The film is quick to acknowledge that Nathalie’s bourgeois lifestyle is a big factor here.)

Things to Come is grounded in the personal, but it’s also deeply invested in the philosophical and the political, making time for extended conversations around the purpose of protest and the history of radicalism. While it never feels didactic, there are occasional flashes of inauthenticity: an over-reliance on the inspirational teacher trope, or reminders that this screenplay about middle age is written by a 36 year-old. These moments are forgiven by the tender, reflective tone; both Huppert and Hansen-Løve ensure that the authentic rhythms of life smooth over any minor missteps.

3.5 stars

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