For Reel

Things to Come (2016)
October 26, 2016, 11:31 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Mia Hansen-Løve
4.5 Stars
things-to-comeAll of Mia Hansen-Løve’s films revolve around destabilizing moments in a person’s life—whether those be tragedies (Father of My Children) or heartbreaks (Goodbye, First Love). Things to Come is perhaps her most complex story of a life crisis in that it is not a story of discovery, but rather of accepting and surviving. That Isabelle Huppert’s Nathalie is a philosophy instructor doesn’t provide a sense of escape or at least a rationalization for the things that happen to her—in fact, the film’s treatment of philosophy is hugely ambiguous, serving both as the basis for a genuinely thoughtful community (the relationship between Huppert and her students is touching) and as the catalyst for many conversations about how philosophy needs to adapt the modern world (Nathalie is pitched modernist, tacky covers for her seminal philosophy texts by her publishers). When Nathalie tells an old student (Roman Kolinka) that, “I’m lucky to be fulfilled intellectually,” the sentiment is undeniably genuine but certainly more complicated than that given the levels of grief she undergoes. Whether philosophy can actually be the key to helping her accept her recent string of tragedies, however, is actually less important than her fitting the role of instructor— Hansen-Løve seems to argue that performance and self-acceptance go hand-in-hand, a point that becomes particularly lucid when Nathalie finds herself at a screening of Abbas Kiarostami’s Certified Copy.