Isabelle Huppert Shines In 'Things To Come'
The actress recently won awards from L.A. and New York film critics
"Story of Women" (1988)
"The Piano Teacher" (2001)
The down-to-earth French film is about meeting change head on.
My grandmother was French, and she had a way of walking quickly and resolutely as if she knew exactly where she was going — even when she was lost. This trait also seems to distinguish Isabelle Huppert's character of Nathalie in "Things to Come."
The camera loves to follow her as she walks briskly and with great purpose even though her life is about to be thrown completely off its familiar course.
Early on, we see a lively student protest in France. The protest annoys Nathalie who has to cross the picket line to teach her high school philosophy class.
Nathalie sees the unrest as a sharp contrast to the routine and stability of her life. But filmmaker Mia Hansen-Løve sees it more as a harbinger of things to come. The changes that lie in wait for her involve her aging mother (played with great style by Edith Scob), her scholarly husband of 25 years and her favorite student.
Hansen-Løve usually deals with youthful passions ("Eden," "Goodbye First Love"). But for this film, she focuses on a middle-aged woman who faces late life challenges with a matter of fact sense of acceptance. The film has a bittersweet tone but one that also is steadfastly about moving forward and rolling with the punches.
Huppert is the film’s chief asset, and her assured performance as Nathalie is a joy to watch. This is a far less challenging and demanding role than her part in Paul Verhoeven's "Elle" (a perverse take on the rape-revenge narrative that is also seeking Oscar's attention this year). But Huppert is always up for the demands of any role and always delivers flawless work.
Hansen-Løve won the best director award at the 2016 Berlin International Film Festival earlier this year. She does a fine job of keeping the film grounded and avoiding melodrama — except, of course, in the case of Nathalie's flamboyant, drama-queen mother.
"Things to Come" is in French and German with English subtitles and is rated PG-13 for brief language and drug use.