Foreign film review: “Things to Come”

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“Things to Come”, the 2016 French film written and directed by Mia Hansen-Løve, centers around a philosophy teacher named Natalie (IsabelleHuppert). Natalie has a loving husband, two grown children and an apartment with enough built-in book shelves to fuel a bookworm’s wildest dreams. Her life may not be on par with the more exciting lives of Marvel Superhero’s or dramatic as those of Austen’s heroines, but it is intellectually engrossing and ever evolving.

Natalie’s husband leaves her for a younger woman, her book deal falls through, and her sickly yet feisty mother dies unexpectedly. Natalie does not dissolve into a self piteous, defeated slump, nor does she throw things and accuse any gods of ruining her life. Instead, Natalie holds her head high and regards these unexpected changes as her ticket to true and unbridled freedom.

Coming of middle-age
One may hesitate to call this movie the story of a mid-life crisis, as Natalie takes all her misfortunes in stride, seemingly unaffected at times and only slightly perturbed at others. In fact, when her husband finally informs her of his affair, Natalie asks why he could not have simply kept his infidelity a secret. When her mother dies–despite Natalie’s constant complaining about how annoying it was to cater to her every whim–she organizes a beautiful ceremony. Despite being a philosophy teacher, she never seems to recognise her hypocrisy.

Highly suggested
If this film were to be scored on technical points alone, it would already be a tempting choice. The movie has garnered a 100% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, seven out of ten stars on IMDB, as well as rave reviews from The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and Variety. The film has received the National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actress (won by Huppert) and the Silver Bear for Best Director. Lead actress Isabelle Huppert, who has been hailed as the Meryl Streep of France, has won twenty-six awards and appeared in more than 100 films since her debut in 1971.

The casual viewer looking for explosive comedy or dramatic romance may find themselves disappointed by the long and casual philosophical discussions that is followed by pensive silence. That is not to say the film is completely devoid of comedy and romance; however, it would be foolish to expect a crotch shot or long kiss in the rain.

To those looking for a thought-provoking film, to those looking for a night of superb acting, or to those who simply need to practice their french listening comprehension, this is a fantastic film. If you missed UW-Parkside’s showing of the film, it is also available on Netflix and is well worth the watch. Enjoy.

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