DMovies - Your platform for thought-provoking cinema

Things to Come (L’Avenir)

Director - Mia Hansen-Løve - 2016

"Greasy movie"
A downcast and passive Isabelle Huppert is a philosophy teacher unable to act out her teachings, in a beautiful reflection on intellectual futility

French actress Isabelle Huppert is best remembered for her role as the dysfunctional and sadistic piano teacher Erika Kohutin in The Piano Teacher (Michael Haneke/ 2001) or a tachycardiac Augustine in Eight Women (François Ozon/ 2002). In Things to Come she plays again a teacher (called Nathalie), but this time she lectures philosophy and has a very different demeanour and approach to life.

Unlike Erika, Nathalie is a respectful teacher, as well as a loving wife and mother. She does not challenge the scheme and the establishment of which she is part. In fact, she avoids confrontation at all costs. She does not adhere to a student strike, and she hardly says a word when her husband asks for a divorce because he is in love with another woman. Nathalie is mostly calm and considerate, a far cry from cry from Huppert’s explosive roles for which she is best known.

Nathalie is oblivious to the fact that she does not live what she teaches at university. Philosophy is a venting outlet for many of her students, and many are ardent strikers and aspiring revolutionaries with radical ideas.  She criticises their “radicality” and preaches a more moderate approach to life. Her teachings of philosophy seems to imprison instead of liberating her.

Her passivity towards her predicament and her latent anguish gradually choke her. She claims that she is free after her husband left her, her kids grew and her mother died,  but she is unable to live out these sentiments of liberty. She points out that her black cat will not survive more than five minutes because it never knew freedom, when it escapes into the forest. She fails to realise that this is a comment on the infeasibility of her own freedom.

Things to Come often remind viewers that death is the only inevitable consequence of life. The film title is presented with a grave in the background, and Nathalie’s mother dies of depression after being placed in an old’s people home. During funeral arrangements, Nathalie explains that her mother felt abandoned throughout her life because her parents left her as a young child. Once again, Nathalie fails to see the writing on the wall, despite her profound philosophical knowledge: her mother died because she could not handle being once again abandoned, this time by her own daughter (who put her in the old people’s home).

Various political themes and  philosophical aspirations are also touched upon in the film. They include the student revolution of 1968, the lowering of the retirement age in France, the meaning of established truth, writings by Rousseau, etc. European intellectuals are mentioned throughout the film, such as Hannah Arendt and Martin Heidegger. Thoughts and reflections are conspicuous, yet there are few actionable deeds. Nathalie herself points out at one occasion: “it is impossible to reconcile thought and action”.

Hansen-Løve is only 35 years old and she has already directed several acclaimed films such as All is Forgiven and The Father of My Children. She is certain not to disappoint audiences with the subtle and powerful Things to Come.

Supported by very strong performances and a beautiful photography of Paris, the coast Brittany and the bucolic Vercors Mountains, Things to Come is a subtle yet powerful commentary on the futility of passive philosophy, and the often weak intellectual fodder that sustains European literature and cinema.

The movie was presented on February 13th at the 66th Berlinale, and DMovies is covered the event in loco. The few is in cinemas from August.

You can watch the film trailer below:

.



"Greasy movie"

By Victor Fraga - 13-02-2016

By Victor Fraga - 13-02-2016

Victor Fraga is a Brazilian born and London-based writer with more than 15 years of involv...

DMovies Poll

Do/would you go to the cinema in order to watch documentaries?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Most Read

François Ozon probably doesn’t get much sleep. At [Read More...]
Pigs might fly. And so Brexit might happen. [Read More...]
Time flies by! DMovies was launched in February [Read More...]
American novelist Dennis Cooper’s cinematic debut feels like [Read More...]
It’s 2018, and neoliberalism is steadily morphing into [Read More...]
On the occasion of the UK release of [Read More...]

Read More

On Body and Soul (Testről és lélekről)

Ildikó Enyedi
2017

Jeremy Clarke - 19-09-2017

See you in my dreams! Golden Bear winner is an oneiric romance set against the unlikely backdrop of an abattoir - out in cinemas this week [Read More...]

Five dirty picks from the Raindance Film Festival

 

Victor Fraga - 18-09-2017

Check out top five recommendations for the Raindance Film Festival, one of the largest showcases for independent cinema in the world, starting this week in London [Read More...]

The Road Movie

Dmitrii Kalashnikov
2017

Victor Fraga - 14-09-2017

This jaw-dropping documentary entirely filmed from dashcams on Russian cars provides a shocking, bleak and despondent portrait of the largest country in the world - at Hot Docs London [Read More...]

Facebook Comment

Website Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *