This film was voted one of the ten best films of 2016 by a panel of international critics selected by Sight and Sound, the magazine of the British Film Institute. Kate Stables writes, ‘the film’s real art lies in its ability to present the hard and complex business of surviving life in a disarmingly simple way’. It was also one of the Guardian’s best films of 2016, citing Isabelle Huppert’s ‘exceptional performance’. It scored a very rare 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, the website that averages international critics’ ratings.
Nathalie (Huppert) teaches philosophy at a high school in Paris. She is passionate about her job and particularly enjoys passing on the pleasure of thinking. Married with two children, she divides her time between her family, former students and her very possessive mother. One day, Nathalie’s husband announces he is leaving her for another woman. With freedom thrust upon her, Nathalie must reinvent her life. It is a story that could be played for flustered comedy or hysterically pitched melodrama, but in Huppert’s cool hands, it becomes an unlikely parable of liberation and renewed self-worth. Nathalie is forced to reassess her relationships, not just with her soon-to-be ex-husband but also with her drama queen of a mother (played with signature flair by the great Edith Scob), her grown daughter (Sarah Le Picard), her book publishers and even her students, who have been so conditioned to see relativity in everything that they even question whether time can be wrong in establishing universally accepted truths.
When Nathalie encounters a handsome former student named Fabien (Roman Kolinka), what begins as an intellectually engaged exchange of books and heady theoretical debates seems as though it might head for the physical. But writer-director Mia Hansen-Love never sends Things to Come in the expected direction, instead allowing Nathalie the pleasures of the life of the mind while she comes to terms with a body that, if older, is finally hers and hers only. Things change drastically, sometimes grievously, for Nathalie in Things to Come, which acknowledges its heroine’s doubt and confusion as well as her courage and emerging softness. Suffused with wry humour, vulnerability and radiant warmth, Huppert’s performance captures that delicate period in life during which resignation morphs into graceful, even grateful, acceptance.
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Venue: William Loveless Hall