Things to Come
Stars: Isabelle Huppert, André Marcon, Roman Kolinka, Edith Scob
Audiences could be forgiven for thinking that, with its philosopher lecturer protagonist and high-end Paris setting, that writer/director Hansen-Løve’s follow up to 90s-set dance movie Eden, sounds like just another poised portrayal of Gallic bourgeois ennui. In reality this is a deeply humane and richly detailed character study. After twenty-five years of marriage, Heinz (Marcon) the husband of fifty-something lecturer Nathalie (Huppert) announces that he is leaving her for another woman. Initially Nathalie is unsure what to do with this newfound freedom that has been imposed on her, although she has her hands full with her needy aging mother (Eyes without a Face’s Edith Scob, still going strong at seventy-nine) constantly phoning her for help. Later, Nathalie encounters one of her brightest students Fabien (Kolinka), a good-looking young idealist who is going to live in a rural commune with his fellow intellectuals. While she may not share Fabien’s youthful idealism, seemingly untarnished by experience, Nathalie nevertheless respects him and momentarily visits the commune, with her mother’s cat in tow, to consider her options. Hansen-Løve, the daughter of philosophers, delivers an empathetic and multi-layered portrait that feels perfectly attuned to Huppert’s low-key acting style. There are no moments of clarity here, no breakthroughs or easy solutions, and no neat conclusion, rather a depiction of an unfolding life with all its attendant ups and downs. And while Natalie isn’t depicted as some idealised suffering heroine, Huppert’s wry performance, which never tries to elicit audience sympathy, renders her character eminently relatable.