by Paul Attard Film Horizon Line

Things to Come | Mia Hansen-Løve

December 2, 2016

Mia Hansen-Løve’s Things to Come—that other film at TIFF ’16 in which Isabelle Huppert acts alongside a cat—tracks several years in the life of philosophy teacher Nathalie Chazeaux (Huppert) and her divorce from a cheating husband, crafting a self-consciously intelligent look at life’s various adjustments. Unfortunately, this is a movie rife with unrealized emotional potential, to the point that it doesn’t even feel like Nathalie is experiencing real turmoil. Everyone remains straight-faced and the drama doesn’t gain momentum beyond the initial setup. A scene in which Nathalie’s daughter makes her father confess to adultery exemplifies this well: both remain so calm and forthright about the dilemma that it comes off more like a business transaction than a revelatory moment.

True, the point could be that our lives rarely are actually altered that much, even when something like this happens, but the movie is so inert that we lose sight of the message, or simply don’t care. The divorce never threatens any part of Nathalie’s life, and neither does it stir our interest. There are moments that aim for a heavier emotional register—for instance when Nathalie seemingly is stalked or sees her former husband with his mistress. But these are minor blips in an otherwise far too sangfroid movie, one that fails to stir feelings despite its harrowing content.

Published as part of Toronto International Film Festival 2016 | Dispatch 1.