15 January 2017 | paul-allaer
"The future is compromised"
"Things to Come" (2016 release from France; original title "L'Avenir" (The Future); 100 min.) brings the story of Nathalie, As the movie opens, we see Nathalie and her family visiting the burial site of Chateaubriand at St. Malo in Brittany. We then go to "Some Years Later", and Nathalie and her husband Heinz, both lyceum teachers, are dealing with various student protests against "the reform", much to their irritation. In a parallel story, Nathalie needs to deal with her aging mother, who seemingly calls her every 5 minutes regarding an ailment (real or perceived). At this point we are 10 min. into the movie but to tell you more of the plot would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.
Couple of comments: this is the latest movie from French writer-director Mia Hansen-Løve, best known for the excellent "Father of My Children" some years ago. Here she brings to the big screen a seemingly ordinary slice of life about a women in her late fifties, dealing with changes around her: her aging mom, issues at school, issues with her husband, issues with her schoolbook publishing company, etc. etc. No bomb explosions, no special effects, no car chases, just people interacting and living their lives. The first hour of the movie plays out in Paris, and makes day-to-day life in Paris look fantastic: mostly sunny weather, people playing in the park, people enjoying a coffee on a sidewalk terrace, etc. (Having grown up in nearby Belgium, I can assure you that in reality the weather is rarely that nice...) The rests of the movie plays out at the family's summer house in Brittany, and also in the Rhone mountains. But the very best part of the movie is of course to watch Isabelle Huppert in action. In my mind, Huppert is the European Meryl Streeo (they are about the same age), and Huppert seemingly is only getting better as she's getting older (just like Streep). Here Huppert brings the Nathalie character with a vulnerability yet an equal amount of determination. In one of her classes, she asks the students "can the established truth be debated?" Later on, she concludes that "the future is compromised".
"Things to Come" won major acclaim when it premiered at the Berlin film festival last year, and rightfully so. As it happens, Huppert released another film last year, "Elle", that won her even greater acclaim. It's tough when you're competing against yourself. "Things to Come" opened this weekend at my local art-house theater here in Cincinnati (the same theater where "Elle" is still showing, coincidentally). The Sunday matinée screening where I saw this at was packed, to my surprise. I guess the word is out that basically any film starring Isabelle Huppert is almost certainly a must-see, and that certainly is the case here. "Things to Come" is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!