GIVE thanks that the monster in Spanish director JA Bayona’s gentle fantasy based on Patrick Ness’ novel isn’t an angry alien intent on destroying mankind. But he doesn’t like being crossed when he’s busy doing […]
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