This stunning tale about what it means to find yourself, again—asks its audience and its central character to truly ponder life’s purpose.
Nathalie (Isabelle Huppert) seems to be barely participating in life. She teaches philosophy, yet refuses to get involved in the politics of the day. She finds her husband’s disenchantment with her more an annoying disappointment, than devastation. A former student who appears to be radicalising barely troubles her, and her mother’s incessant cries for attention are simply a daily inconvenience.
She seems to prefer the simplicity of not engaging too much. Even the suggestion by her publisher that she add colour to her reprints, is enough for her to not bother to protest when her run is cancelled.
When her husband and mother leave her, and her children have grown, Nathalie finds herself starting over, in her fifties. She must decide what she wants from a life that she has seemingly only barely existed in, despite studying the deepest questions of humanity through her work as a philosophy lecturer.
The sudden departure of both her mother and her husband seem to prompt action. She takes the time to reconnect with her former student, and while staying with his activist friends, slowly begins to awaken.
Her mother’s cat (fat, old, and the source of her allergy) also creates a spark in her. Convinced that this housebound feline is unable to fend for herself in the great wide world, Nathalie is shocked to discover she can—and perhaps Nathalie can, too.
Things to Come asks more questions than it provides answers, yet it offers so much. Observing the way we tend to limit ourselves with age, or resign ourselves to a way of being, the film is an awakening—not just for the character, but the audience too.
Mia Hansen-Løve has provided us with such delicate and stunning insights into the human condition, but this is by far her best yet. With the talent of Huppert delivering the subtlety and the nuance this role needed, and a host of excellent supporting actors who provoke her character into action, Things to Come is a cinematic treat.
This is a film that really makes you feel, inspires thought, and evokes passion. It’s a pleasure to view.