Things to Come

Things to Come

(L'avenir)
(2016)

Mia Hansen-Løve (Eden) won the Berlin Film Festival's Silver Bear for Best Director for this drama starring the stupendous Isabelle Huppert (Amour) as a philosophy teacher attempting to deal with a terrible trifecta of life issues: losing her job, the death of her mother, and dealing with her unfaithful husband.

Flicks Review

As a fan of Mia Hansen-Løve’s Eden, I was looking forward to seeing how this film earned her Best Director at the Berlin. In Things to Come, she certainly handles the philosophical coming-of-middle-age material with the sturdiness of a veteran sea captain, as does her first mate Isabelle Huppert in prestigious form. But it’s light in conflict and thin on actual philosophy, resulting in a film so breezy it floats away with little more to say than “woman deals with life issues pretty well.”

[Mini-Review From The 2016 NZIFF]


The Peoples' Reviews

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BY cinemusefilm superstar

Isabelle Huppert is one of French cinema’s finest and her name alone is enough to raise expectations of Things to Come (2016). At a glance, the film promises much: a strong storyline, a beautiful setting, an iconic star. The post-divorce adjustment cycle of trauma, grief, renewal and anticipation of new beginnings is full of cinematic potential. Instead, we find an abundance of prolonged silence, empty space and vacant stares: the promise of things to come is never fulfilled.
Nathalie... More (Isabelle Huppert) is a contented academic intellectual who busies herself in the world of philosophy. Her long marriage is abruptly terminated by her equally intellectual husband who has found a new love, an announcement he makes with as much emotion as ordering home-delivery pizza. Nathalie’s response similarly has as much depth as a quibble over pastrami or ham topping and she remains at this level throughout. Then her textbook contract is cancelled because of falling interest in philosophy and her high-maintenance mother passes away. All three triggers offer freedom, but Nathalie stalls in self-despair and victimhood.
She attaches herself to a former student to search for her youth and affection, a hope doomed from the start. Her estranged husband moves on with a full life in contrast to her own aimless search to fill the void that now consumes her. Despite her lofty philosophical grasp on life and frequent quotations from eminent authors, she becomes just another woman who is a victim of a man’s decision. The film studies her loneliness with voyeuristic intensity as if her version of abandonment is somehow more enlightened than others, but it is not.
The film is cinematically warm with an intimate style of photography, but the characterisation is shallow. A self-absorbed introvert before the breakup, Nathalie speaks of the joys of new-found freedom but simply cannot act on her new opportunities. If this film was given to a lesser actress than Huppert it would struggle for air. It still does, but it breathes. It stretches patience for a film to hope that empty silence and prolonged focus on inconsequential or motionless detail will be read through the lens of Huppert’s past reputation for inspired depth of meaning and emotional intensity.
It may well be that the emptiness of this story is entirely intended. If so, it will be seen by many as a great success. The musical score gives the story some uplift, even hope, but there are limits to what can be achieved with even the most haunting acapella rendition of Unchained Melody or lively Arlo Guthrie singalong. The ambivalent climax and the emotional ambiguity of the film itself is the only lasting memory.Hide


The Press Reviews

100% of critics recommend.
Rotten Tomatoes Score. More reviews on Rotten Tomatoes

  • A smart, earnest undertaking: an exploration of the insecurity that can hit any of us, at any age, when we start to question the life we've built. Full Review

  • The film's shrewd sense of humor, its way of underlining the absurdity of life's foibles, is fully carried by Huppert's disarming performance... Full Review

  • Huppert is such a persistently and prolifically rigorous performer that she risks being taken for granted in some of her vehicles, but this is major, many-shaded work even by her lofty standards. Full Review

  • A low-key, dignified and bittersweet film. Full Review

  • It echoes Hansen-Løve's previous films in her delicate approach to the passing of time and her sensitivity toward life's expectations and disappointments. Full Review

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