Things to Come is a heartfelt drama that paints an emotional portrait of what its like to navigate the trials of middle age. The film stars Nathalie (Isabelle Huppert), a philosophy teacher whose complacent life seems to pass in effortless waves of work, family, and friends. This world quickly comes tumbling down around her as we begin to watch her life slowly unravel through a series of events. It begins with the news of her ill mother whom she must place in a home. Not soon after, her husband of 25 years, Heinz (Andre Marcoon), announces that he is leaving her for another woman. As if he personal life falling apart wasn’t enough, she begins to notice herself making compromises at work too.
Although the film starts off with a rather bleak outlook on life, this is not its overarching tone. As Nathalie tries to emotionally and intellectually grapple with her new life and what it means for her, she finds herself realizing that she has a newfound freedom. She rationalizes that these hiccups in her life are only minor challenges. “I’m lucky to be fulfilled intellectually,” Nathalie remarks to Fabien (Roman Kolinka), an ex-student, when describing her newly derailed life.
Fabien comes back into Nathalie’s life shortly after it starts to fall apart and she quickly realizes that his confident and radical philosophical views represent a fire in him that has burnt out inside of her with age. Their chats inspire her and the film suggests an attraction between the two of them. However, we as an audience never see this fully develop. Huppert’s impressive portrayal of Nathalie’s conflicting emotions towards her interior life is exceptional. Through this portrayal, the audience is asked whether intellectual fulfillment can really eliminate the need for emotional security.
Hansen-Love does not stray too far from her typical autobiographical style of drama, as she draws deeply on the experiences of her parents, who were both philosophy teachers. The use of philosophy is found deeply embedded in the script in a way that goes beyond Nathalie’s professional occupation. Instead, it encourages the audiences to question certain truths, how to live well, and what freedom looks like. The subtle and powerful messages in this film will not disappoint its audience.
Things to Come screens Wednesday at 7 P.M. at Landmark Theatres, Pen Centre. Visit www.brocku.ca/bufs for details.
-Desirae Stack, Contributor