Film review: Things to Come – Isabelle Huppert braves the trials of middle age in engaging portrait
Mia Hansen-Love’s fifth feature looks at a fifty-something woman struggling to deal with the future after her husband leaves her for another woman
Mia Hansen-Love delivers her most mature and accomplished work to date with her fifth feature – which certainly marks a credible gear change from her last film, Eden. While that DJ-centric tale was a film about youthful highs and lows, Things to Come focuses on the trials of middle age.
Continuing her current rich vein of form after Paul Verhoeven’s Elle, Isabelle Huppert plays Nathalie, a fifty-something philosophy professor who finds that even her refined knowledge of the world’s great thinkers provides little comfort after her husband of 25 years (Andre Marcon) decides to leave her for another woman.
With an increasingly difficult mother (Edith Scob) to deal with, and the prospect of facing old age alone, Nathalie faces an uncertain future. Some directors would deliver an easy resolution or catharsis, but to her credit, Hansen-Løve explores her drama with more ambition.
The strength of Things to Come rests on the way it depicts the little ironies of life. Like the moment a tearful Nathalie is on the bus, only to glimpse her estranged spouse with his new lady. Rather than break down further, she laughs – a defence mechanism, perhaps, but it somehow feels true.
The final act, as Nathalie gets closer to an ex-pupil (Roman Kolinka), making a new life for herself amid a group of young intellectuals living on the margins of society, may feel a little contrived. But Huppert’s subtle portrait of a woman trying to stem the flow of a life crisis remains engaging, humorous and powerful until the very end.
Things to Come opens on April 20
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