Detached Drama

A crisis proves therapeutic for Huppert’s character

Film | by Jorge Ignacio Castillo

Things To Come
RPL Film Theatre
December 2-4
3 out of 5

Given the trajectory of Isabelle Huppert (The Piano Teacher, The Ceremony), it’s not a small thing to have a banner year this late in her career. Dedicated cinephiles recently saw her in the barely distributed Louder than Bombs. Later this winter, audiences will witness Huppert set the screen on fire in the superb Elle.

In the meantime, here is the actress’ third major release of the year. Things to Come is quite literally a slice-of-life type of film. Instead of a beginning and an ending, we catch up with the lead during a turbulent period of her life and leave her shortly after, without much resolution to show for it.

Huppert is Nathalie, a philosophy teacher with a lot on her plate. Her elderly mother depends heavily on her, her first major publication threatens to fall apart, and the students she works with see her as a relic and part of the establishment. Nathalie remains unflappable, until her husband announces he is leaving her for his mistress. Far from falling apart, a sense of liberation takes over, and she begins to chase other pursuits.

I would be lying if I tell you there is more to Things to Come than that. Directed by Mia Hansen-Løve (Eden), this is a movie that demonstrates intellectuals have a healthier attitude towards life than those wearing their heart on the sleeve. Nathalie is not a robot, but manages the small catastrophes in her life with the right amount of detachment, enough to continue moving forward.

Not unlike her husband — writer/director Olivier Assayas — Hansen-Løve allows a considerable amount of personal interpretation in her work, so your own issues become reflected on the screen. For the same reason, and given the low levels of drama on display, there is also a good chance you’ll fail to connect with the protagonist. Regardless, Things to Come is different enough to deserve a chance.