WHEN I last saw him on screen, reprobate lawyer Cleaver Green (played by Richard Roxburgh) had astonished both himself and the public by being elected to the Senate, and I knew that would mean he’d soon […]
A FILM In which the principal character teaches philosophy at a Paris high school must struggle to make a big box office impact. For filmgoers who enjoy thinking about what they are seeing, it offers quite a lot.
Nathalie enjoys her profession. Her marriage to Heinz (André Marcon), comfortable rather than exciting, has provided two children, now young adults. But behind Heinz’s stolid façade lies a heart capable of passion – inevitably, toward a younger woman. The marriage is irretrievable, the breakup civil.
Nathalie frequently visits her demanding mother Yvette (Edith Scob), a faded beauty, a hypochondriac refusing to go into care, living in a luxurious rather than opulent apartment, her only companion a large black cat named Pandora. Yvette’s excited – she’s being considered for a role in a show in which she is to play the deceased! Writer/director Mia Hansen-Lǿve’s sense of the ridiculous is sharp.
Outside the school, students are revolting against political measures. Nathalie’s publisher is pressing her to agree to a refreshment of the next edition of her book that sells well among philosophical pedagogical folk. But her life is generally satisfying.
Nathalie does not take a lover. Why should she? She knows numerous men whose company she enjoys. A house on the Brittany coast provides an escape.
Hansen-Lǿve has imbued her film (reportedly based on her own mother who is indeed a professor of philosophy) with delicious visual beauty and staged it with impressive economy of resources (and a couple of goofs). Playing Nathalie in her mid-60s, Isabelle Huppert, heart-stoppingly lovely, displays impressive physical capabilities.
“Things to Come” is low-budget filmmaking of a high order. And its closing moments, to the accompaniment of “Unchained Melody”, imply a foretaste of Nathalie’s future.
At Palace Electric