Things to Come

Marco Pedretti | 23/03/2017

One of the most acclaimed films at this year’s Alliance Française French Film Festival is Mia Hansen-Love’s Things to Come. Isabelle Huppert’s stunning and emotional portrayal of Nathalie, a philosophy academic living in Paris, is easily one of the best performances audiences can expect to see during the Festival. Despite a plot which at times can feel a little slow, the characters in this film make it one which you cannot afford to miss.

Nathalie appears to have an enviable life. A renowned academic living in Paris who is deeply passionate about her field, she has been married for 25 years and has two children. However, as is often the case, we soon learn that a more complicated life brews just beneath the surface. Her ageing mother grows increasingly senile, at the same time publishers hesitate to publish her newest work and she learns that her husband has been seeing another woman.

The story thus is framed around a single person, shaken from her comfort zone by upheaval in her personal and professional life. In this respect the premise is entirely relatable but also relatively unremarkable. Despite this, there are times where the audience will be left with intrigue. Nathalie’s response to her husband when he tells her he is seeing another woman is ‘why tell me? Why not keep it a secret?’ Such a response may seem strange to an Australian audience but it serves to highlight the film’s Gallic origins and the resulting cultural differences. The fact that this film feels like a simple insight into a very normal life, and not one that has been created in Hollywood only increases the audience’s curiosity. This film has succeeded in making its very believable, almost normal, premise into a interesting, engaging and ultimately very enjoyable story.

Huppert’s sensitive and measured portrayal of a woman confronting this formidable life transition whilst maintaining an immense emotional strength is the highlight of this film. There are few performances that are as powerful as hers here. Complemented by thought-provoking discussions of philosophy, and by the beautiful scenery of Brittany and charming Parisian streetscapes, this film, although slow at times, never fails to hold the viewer’s interest.

Conclusion

Ultimately, Things to Come boasts a relatable storyline, interesting characters and beautiful acting, it is easy to see this film becoming a classic example of French cinema that will stand the test of time.