Things to Come
Starring Isabelle Huppert, André Marcon, Roman Kolinka, Edith Scob
France choose “the other” Isabelle Huppert film Elle, as their countries official foreign language submission to the Academy Awards. I can see why now, not that I think either film was the countries strongest choice (The Innocents by Anne Fontaine was much stronger). Between the two films, one a thriller, this one a procedural drama, Hubbert (I Heart Huckabees) demonstrates her range only slightly as it pertains to the particular genre. I think my issue with her work, regardless of whom she portrays, nor what genre, all I see is Huppert, never the character. If the disastrously bad Inferno was the year’s film about running to and from, Things to Come is the one about walking back and forth.
Protests rage at the college Nathalie Chazeaux (Hubbert) teaches philosophy, and her classrooms are thin with attendance. At home, her husband Heinz (Macron), also a professor, reveals he is leaving her for a younger woman. Dad is pressured to reveal the truth, from their daughter, demanding he choose between the two lives he is leading. If her schedule and emotional obligations weren’t full enough, Nathalie is continually interrupted by her ailing mother, who refuses to be alone. Nathalie begins spending most of her free time with former student Fabien (Kolika), admitting that deep down she has been prepared for all this disruption and that she is fulfilled intellectually.
If Elle was preposterous due to its over-reaching soap opera antics and gratuitous sex scenes, Things to Come is the exact opposite, offering nothing in the way of a climax, conflict or anything mildly dramatic.
Things to Come is a quiet film, not successfully the way Jeff Nichols Loving works, frustrating for the viewer as it takes pleasure in the mundane. Nathalie goes from home to work, from work to her mothers, from mothers to their beach house, mountain retreat, it’s tiring to watch the filmmakers continually offer us little to nothing in the way of conflict as it pertains to a change in emotion. Life happens, a lot of life, but Mia Hansen-Løve, praised for her ability to capture real life, doesn’t offer (at least American audiences) enough. It’s not cinema, it’s just voyeur, but not interesting watching a middle aged woman accept complete freedom, whether prepared for it or not.
If Elle was preposterous due to its over-reaching soap opera antics and gratuitous sex scenes, Things to Come is the exact opposite, offering nothing in the way of a climax, conflict or anything mildly dramatic. Hubbert just stomps from one frame to another in these obnoxious heels that are somehow supposed to make some big impact from this tiny framed woman. She never stops moving, and yet she nor the plot never gets anywhere. There are stunning scenes of the coast line, the French mountains, and it’s little to no distraction from a film that runs on a lack of enthusiasm, only slices of philosophy that translate to a dull experience.
A sterile film with too much appreciation on the mundane.