Things to Come Screen 94 of 41 reviews

Things to Come

2016

Things to Come Poster
  • Tremendous. I received a lot of the film as a story about obligations and the friction that comes from what people (characters) would seem to owe each other versus a sense of expectation about what a character owes us, the viewers. Compromise & pragmatism rule the day because that which is "to come" persistently erodes pure principles and situates people in positions where they must cobble together existence rather than stay true to form.

  • The results may not be instantly flooring like Hansen-Løve’s previous movies were, but that seems to be deliberate. The power of THINGS TO COME exists below its placid surface, much like the heroine’s rock-like resolve is belied by an oh-so-French politesse. (That’s not to say the movie feels dry or boring. Hansen-Løve’s mother was a professor, and you can sense the filmmaker's very personal connection to the material at every turn.)

  • ++

    Film Comment: Nick Davis
    January 03, 2017 | January/February 2017 Issue (p. 49)

    It's like a Nancy Meyers movie written and directed by Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Unpretentious yet rigorously philosophical, it poses trenchant questions about willfulness, personal liberty, radical politics, and change over time within an accessible, unpredictable, casually engrossing story.

  • Mia is back! The narrative strategy is like Goodbye First Love – the sense of time is just flexible enough to keep the character in motion – but without the earlier film's obvious story fascination... MHL creates little surprises throughout: e.g., Pandora the cat running away in the night, then returning with a mouse; or Huppert laughing at the sight of her husband in the street with his new love. The film feels better and truer the more I ponder it.

  • Hansen-Løve has yet to do wrong in my book. Her writing is both delicate and fiercely direct in its point of view, and her direction has both grace and tension, sometimes contained in the same shot. Her study of an academic—Isabelle Huppert, impeccable again—facing a number of life upheavals as she wades out of middle age and into old is a marvelous depiction of how someone stays in the world even as that world seems intent on leaving her behind.

  • It's one of the most convincing and thoughtful character studies of an intellectual trying to reconcile her everyday, exterior life with her philosophical positions. Totally absent here are the 'Aha!' big-idea moments that normally plague films about serious intellectuals. Instead, Nathalie, as played so exquisitely by Huppert, is learning and adapting on the go, using the skills, ideas, and materials available to her to respond to difficult, but not finally insurmountable, circumstances.

  • My favourite MIFF “competitor”, as it were, was L’avenir (Things to Come, Mia Hansen-Løve, 2016), which also featured a performance by Huppert as an older woman confronting the pains and injustices that she has become immune to, though in a more grounded context where time is measured and personal philosophy is a didactic must.

  • Any attempt to explain would only give away this wondrous movie’s non-ending ending. It’s enough to tell you that Hansen-Løve, who has an ear for movie music like almost no other young filmmaker, ends the picture with The Fleetwoods’ 1959 a capella “Unchained Melody,” one of the most rapturous and melancholic recordings ever made. It’s unearthly in its gauzy beauty, a radio signal from a place beyond dreams.

  • As the title would suggest, many fresh adventures reside on the horizon for those willing and open to them. Things to Come willfully disavows normal plot points and pacing to embrace this idea. No grand victories or defeats are present, just the ebbs and flows of life that can sometimes fail to leave an impression if you aren't paying attention. This passionately suggests that most moments are worth a second glance.

  • Like Nathalie, Hansen-Love wants us to embrace complexity, see the world as open, not closed. In its quiet, unassuming, almost workmanlike way, this is not the movie for our scary age, but one of many, and right there on the top rung.

  • Hansen-Løve's gift is in presenting this vast internal journey with elegance and clarity, resisting the urge for scenery-chewing catharsis, and always examining just how much time operates as a force in our lives (whether we acknowledge it or not). In one way or another, Hansen-Løve's films are all about the passage of time.

  • Hansen-Løve has long been preoccupied by the process of mourning. Her films Father of My Children (2009) and Goodbye First Love (2011) mapped the continually switchbacking path from loss to recovery. Things to Come essentially continues that project, privileging intimately awkward moments over more overtly dramatic confrontations, but it displays an even sharper eye for verisimilar yet expressive minutiae.

  • It's possible to feel both devastated and encouraged by the elegiac final moments, when the camera travels slowly around Nathalie's warmly lit home as she serves Christmas dinner to her family, which has a saving new member. Then it pans away to the final song from the eclectic soundtrack, a wistful cover of "Unchained Melody"... It may leave the door slightly open on Nathalie's future, or it might seal her fate. Either way, it serves as the unifying credo of this beautiful film.

  • In Hansen-Løve's Eden, the floating nature of her style made for an ideal correlative to the depiction of a subculture in which remaining fixed or assuming responsibility was seen as almost obscene. Here, it speaks to the fact that, as the dominoes of Nathalie's life fall around her, even the most mundane experience becomes one of unpredictability. As we watch this woman lose her family, her status, and maybe even some part of her pride, we sense both the horror and the intoxication of freedom.

  • Huppert, wary but never closed off, embodies a woman who knows too well that she has control over nothing beyond the boundaries of her own body and mind, but who retains absolute dominion over that citadel. This is as much victory as is available to most of us before the inevitable defeat: the end is predetermined, but there is work to be done while the light lasts.

  • Hansen-Løve's Things to Come (L’avenir) well demonstrates her mastery of traditional, skillful filmmaking. Her camera is locked down rather than restlessly roaming, with simple reframes to follow actors’ movements. The compositions are impeccable, the editing clearly planned in advance, and the story told in an unobtrusive, clear fashion. I found the film appealing partly because it presents that rare thing, a plausible depiction of the life of an academic.

  • Hansen-Løve relates the young man's affable smugness through smaller moments, as when he dismisses a book Nathalie lent him for its “confusion of radicalism and terrorism.” It's not that his impressions are lame, but that he delivers the critical line as a matter of fact, and is unresponsive to Nathalie's claims to the contrary. It's the sharpest incident in the film, precisely encapsulating the paucity of connection that comes from Fabien's preferred form of terse, dismissive argumentation.

  • The film carries a surprisingly nuanced perspective on the sensibility in how to live life in spite of setbacks and discouragement of all forms: emotional, spiritual, intellectual, and physical. It’s a movie smart enough to know that Nathalie won’t find an answer in a black cat or a dashing young student. She’s got the power within herself to persevere.

  • There is no actress better suited for capturing the tedium and everyday nuisance of endings. Together with Hansen-Løve, Huppert perfectly captures this fact of life with insight and compassion, delicately conjuring images of loneliness and its many, unexpected forms.

  • The script and the acting are nicely complementary of one another throughout; Hansen-Løve’s selection of an academic milieu serves and is served by her star’s credibly intellectual comportment. In a movie where pretty much everybody onscreen has not only read Adorno, Horkheimer, and Levinas but also possesses dog-eared first editions filled with underlined passages of text, Huppert finds a way inside the talking points, as if animated by philosophy’s inherent excitement.

  • Hansen-Løve remains incredibly adept at capturing scenes in efficiently/beautifully blocked ways. Watch Nathalie in the classroom, circling the desks while lecturing: the camera does a full 360 from the center aisle that establishes the entire space and captures all students, then dollies in to Huppert solo, standing by the window while she thinks and students write.

  • In the wry, humane and thoughtful Things to Come, Nathalie’s late middle age is upended by a sudden eruption in her marriage, professional setbacks and the death of her demanding elderly mother. Yet the film treats this destabilising cluster of crises with extraordinary restraint.

  • Nothing here is forced, and the title offers a no-nonsense reminder that everything Nathalie experiences, we will likely look forward to ourselves. The sadness at the core of the film is her realisation that she has no answers, and that perhaps there are no answers.

  • The film oozes with such effortless alchemy between director and actor that it’s hard to believe Hansen-Løve, who also wrote the script, is not more advanced in years (the writer-director is still only thirty-five).

  • Effortlessly sidestepping the sentimental clichés one might expect from such a story, Mia Hansen-Løve creates and sustains a light, delicate tone while never downplaying the difficulties of an unexpected, unwanted life-change. She’s helped enormously by a supremely witty, touching, utterly truthful performance by Isabelle Huppert as the protagonist – though the rest of the cast lend more than sterling support.

  • No festival should be without a superb Huppert performance, and Hansen-Løve’s insightful, literate and moving drama gives her sterling material to work with.

  • Mia Hansen-Løve's Things to Come offers the most distinctly French pleasures. These include apartment walls entirely filled with books, casual intellectual conversations, a nonchalant attitude toward unfaithfulness, and, most notably, Isabelle Huppert, who plays a resilient philosophy teacher at a high school in Paris. How not to love a film in which all characters seem to have read Arthur Schopenhauer and whose main character is a woman who needs Hannah Arendt more than she needs a man?

  • Without the idealism of Goodbye First Love and Eden’s protagonists, Nathalie is a character who, in her self-possession, seeming to lack vulnerability, might be harder to relate to. This does not make hers a less emotional story; rather, the ways she is challenged and nudged by life have an impact she was perhaps unprepared for, and the combination of Hansen-Løve’s thorough characterisation and Huppert’s committed performance ensure a very moving portrayal of middle age.

  • As you’d expect, Huppert and Hansen-Løve are a marvelous match, as is this film and more than a few by Hansen-Løve’s husband, Olivier Assayas, about what’s lost in the inevitable relinquishing of youth. And the way books, as objects, become charged with memory and significance may have you thinking of Truffaut.

  • If the filmmaker’s previous movies all dealt with the passage of time in one way or another, this latest effort tackles the subject head-on in a manner both deeply intellectual and compassionately playful, mixing citations by Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Blaise Pascal with witty reflections... While the film’s first half is perhaps more potent than its conclusion, this is still another impressive work by an auteur who manages to transform everyday stories into a singular vision.

  • While Hansen-Løve certainly deserves credit for writing such a compelling character, it’s difficult to imagine anyone realizing Nathalie as consummately as Huppert, who, even by her exceptionally high standards, pulls off a superlative performance.

  • At once disarmingly simple in form and riddled with rivulets of complex feeling, this story of a middle-aged Parisienne philosophy professor rethinking an already much-examined life in the wake of unforeseen divorce emulates the best academics in making outwardly familiar ideas feel newly alive and immediate — and has an ideal human conduit in a wry, heartsore Huppert, further staking her claim as our greatest living actress with nary a hint of showing off.

  • The great merit of “Things to Come” is in its construction of the network of associations and activities that bind Nathalie to the world around her. That world, and the moral trials imposed by its sudden absence, is where the filmmaker’s passions and pleasures are found. Yet Hansen-Løve never gets to the soul of her protagonist—her film comes to life with Nathalie’s own activity but doesn’t reveal much about her in repose beside her baseline sense of humane decency.

  • If the movie doesn’t completely fulfill Hansen-Løve’s career mission of elevating minor incidents to major themes, it still rings with her clarity and personality. She conveys in single sentences what less confident filmmakers might expound on in a monologue, and makes small gestures more poignant by tossing them off casually or making an unexpected cut.

  • Tomorrow always comes. So well modulated and detailed. The film deceptively sneaks on you with all the weight of a life lived. Huppert’s performance has such a lived-in quality; she just fills the screen. Also, Pandora should won a Cesar.

  • At its best, the film mines much from the faces of the actors who play protagonist Chiron at various points in his life (Alex Hibbert as a shy child, Ashton Sanders as an awkward, searching adolescent, and Trevante Rhodes as a cynical adult), bridging these time periods through incredibly specific body language that each performer manages to share. So good are the lead actors that one can overlook, for a time, the simplicity of the narrative that's built around them.

  • A fine if rather low-key drama helped enormously by Isabelle Huppert’s lead performance.

  • Handing Mia Hansen-Løve the Best Director Silver Bear for a job very well done on Things to Come was an acceptable move, if one looks at the film strictly from the perspective of craft—but Crosscurrent, with its crazy mix of documentary basis and flights of fiction fancy, was a decidedly meaner feat to pull off.

  • A very unusual movie (esp. from a 30-something director), questioning the assumption that losing one's youthful radicalism is wrong per se and suggesting that the much-maligned "bourgeois lifestyle" - living in the grey areas described in the quote from Pascal's "Pensees", having no time for ideological schemas, briskly negotiating crises (a strike, a stalker, a departing husband, a sick mother) and moving on - may be the bravest thing a person can do.

  • Hansen-Løve, who has disappointed in her last two films, Goodbye First Love and Eden, achieves moments of radiant insight in brisk, surprising drama

  • After four features (I bailed on All Is Forgiven in '08), MH-L still strikes me as a fundamentally cautious filmmaker, afraid to risk looking foolish or giving offense. I've been waiting for a return to the urgency of Father of My Children's superior first half, and had assumed that her recent penchant for stories that span many years was a big part of the problem. This one is comparatively Aristotelian, though, and still I sorta shrug. No false notes, just never exciting to me on any level.

More Links