Directed by Mia Hansen-Love
Country: France / Germany
“Things to Come” is a pungent drama that links together Mia Hansen-Love and Isabelle Huppert, acclaimed French director and actress, respectively.
Last year, the latter was the protagonist in Paul Verhoeven’s “Elle”, receiving well-deserved accolades around the world for her brilliant performance. This year, she can only expect further praise since she reteamed with directors Hong Sang-soo in “Claire’s Camera” and Michael Haneke in “Happy End”.
Huppert excels once again under the direction of Hansen-Love, winner of a Silver Berlin Bear, who wrote the script with the actress in mind. Her previous film, “Eden”, was on my favorite list of 2014.
Her new film follows Nathalie Chazeaux (Huppert), a qualified high school philosophy teacher whose emotional strength is tested when her husband, Heinz (André Marcon), also a teacher, leaves her for another woman after 25 years of marriage. It was their children, Chloe (Sarah Le Picard) and Johann (Solal Forte), who forced him to choose between staying and departing when they found out he was seeing someone else.
The situation becomes even more stressful because Nathalie’s mother, Yvette (Edith Scob), is losing the battle against a severe depression and constantly attempting to kill herself. It’s kind of a relief when she finally accepts to dwell in a well-prepared, if costly, nursing home.
And because bad things always come in threes, she is fired from the school she's been teaching for years.
All these setbacks would totally destroy a weak person, but Nathalie is something else. To quote her own words: ‘I’m fulfilled intellectually’; ‘I found my total freedom’. She suffers in silence as she seems to fully accept the unfamiliar situation she is in. There are no dramas. The only person she relies on to talk about her personal life is Fabien (Roman Kolinka), a former student who invites her for a farm he bought in the mountains. Although he considers her a bourgeois and pretends to be more radical than he really is, they are genuinely fond of each other.
Trying not to lose face, her eyes were soaked in tears with a painful ‘au revoir’ to Heinz’s beautiful beach house, where she used to spend her summers.
By taking a good look at its narrative, one may think this is a heavy dark film, but it doesn’t work like that. After all, family is still there. One fundamental question arises, though. What would be of this woman if she had no children?
Even deserving all the praise for eschewing clichés and dramatic trifles, Hansen-Love could have suppressed a couple of scenes that felt contrived and unnecessary, like when a man harasses Nathalie at the movies.
As for the rest, this character-driven accomplishment is powerful, portraying life’s contingencies with class, honesty, and an extraordinary sensibility.