Things to Come DVD Review

Things to Come DVD Review
3.0Overall Score

Isabelle Huppert is Nathalie, a Parisian philosophy professor in Mia Hansen-Love’s Things to Come. Nathalie’s body of work as an academic has been influential, and she is happily married with two grown-up kids. She also spends a considerable amount of time caring for her ill mother Yvette (Edith Scob). When these tenements of Nathalie’s life begin to crumble, she begins a journey of newfound freedom and self-discovery.

Director and screenwriter Mia Hansen-Love won the Silver Bear for Best Director at the Berlin Film Festival, and her previous films have garnered her considerable acclaim. Her previous effort, Eden, a sprawling tale of the French house-music scene, was based on the life of her brother. The family resemblance is also present in Things to Come, which shifts its focus to Mia’s mother. As a result, the film has a tender intimacy that shines through in its best moments, and much of this is credit to a standout performance from Isabelle Huppert. Huppert, who has made a career of rising to exceptionally difficult challenges (particularly her role in Haneke’s shocking The Piano Teacher), is considerably tamer here, and her quiet, introspective performance is simply terrific.

Academia is a tricky subject matter to tackle in film. There are a multitude of ways to portray academia – do you dive into intense philosophical discussion, or simply let the characters role as an academic inform their personality? Hansen-Love opts for a sort of balance in between the two, frequently observing philosophical musings at the dinner table while never letting the scenes get too heavy. Things to Come excels when diving into Nathalie’s career, and her visits to her publishers are surprisingly arresting. Hansen-Love avoids any sort of clichés when dealing with her Nathalie, and her naturalistic approach allows for one of the best representations of intellectuals on film in recent memory.

Unfortunately, Things to Come’s commitment to naturalism falls into the lackadaisical, and the film loses much of its momentum. Past a wonderful turn from Huppert and an impressive understanding of intellectualism, the film does little else to entice the audience. So much of the film relies on Huppert’s performance – and she does deliver –  but the emphasis is so heavily on her that it feels as if the film forgot to develop much else. When things start to unravel in Nathalie’s life, Things to Come does not have anywhere to go, and a lovely, empathetic lead performance isn’t quite enough to overcome the meandering the film traps itself in.

Then again, maybe the lack of answers is the point. In a film so indebted to academia and intellectuals, and particularly the field of philosophy, perhaps it is unsurprising that the film is taken over by an overwhelming aimlessness. Things to Come has a lot going for it, and is ultimately an enjoyable watch. The film, like Nathalie, however, gets too swept up in philosophical musings, and as a result, struggles to be memorable.

The DVD release from Curzon Artificial Eye delivers solid audio and video presentation, unfortunately, its only special feature is the film’s trailer.

About The Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.