Nathalie teaches philosophy at a high school in Paris. She is passionate about her job and particularly enjoys passing on the pleasure of thinking. Married with two children, she divides her time between her family, former students and her very possessive mother. One day, Nathalie's husband announces he is leaving her for another woman. With freedom thrust upon her, Nathalie must reinvent her life.
Nathalie (Isabelle Huppert) is annoyed by an aggressive theater patron while trying to watch the 2010 film Certified Copy at the cinema. That film's costar, English baritone William Shimell, appeared alongside Huppert in Michael Haneke's 2012 film, Amour. Huppert has never acted in a film alongside Certified Copy star Juliette Binoche, but the two have, independently of one another, collaborated with Amour director Haneke several times. See more »
Nathalie is shown walking through the mud flats exposed along the beach at low tide. As she walks, she is clearly following footprints. Since the mud was previously underwater, the footprints must be from a previous take of Isabelle Huppert walking along the same path. See more »
"Things to Come" is centered around Nathalie, a philosophy teacher, and while the film does touch on philosophical elements, the focus is on Nathalie's personal life and her own fears and thoughts about her slowly disintegrating personal relationships.
She has her husband Heinz, two children, a mother on the verge of death who constantly needs her attention, and a previous student that she now has a sort of mother-son relationship with. The film starts with Nathalie, Heinz, and their children visiting a grave of a French author, and then cuts to several years later when Nathalie is called by her dying mother because she is "having a panic attack", although it seems she's done this before and simply wants to force her daughter to give her company. Soon after she is confronted by young protesters on the way to work. They are angry about something having to do with their future retirement. From the start, this film shows that it is about a fear of the future: fear of death, fear of loneliness, fear of old age.
Soon it is revealed that Heinz is having an affair, and he is told by his children that he must choose between her and his wife. He tells his wife that he chose the other woman. She desperately addressed the news with "I thought you would love me forever".
From here, she begins to realize her aging is happening faster than she has realized as her personal relationships and desires begin to fade away slowly and subtly until she is left with nothing but a cat, until she finally accepts her aging and lets go of that as well. The character becomes conflicted, and Isabelle Huppert conveys this repressed regret and fear perfectly. She doesn't want to care about her husband's affair, and she wants to be satisfied with what she has accomplished, but her dreams of the future seem to be destroyed, as each of those she loves begins to let her down. She even tries to fill the whole left by her husband through another relationship, but she no longer has the will or desire. In a great shot, the screen fades to black as she opens the blinds, showing the reality of her loneliness. She begins to lose hope.
Her mother's death marks the disappearance of the one person in her life who still needed her. Her mother's life was revealed to be full of suffering and lost love, but Nathalie was the one thing in her life that she could be proud of, and now Nathalie has taken her place.
As extreme as this sounds in my description, the film itself is very subtle, and relies heavily on Huppert's performance, to great effect.
While "Things to Come" is a solemn, emotional film with themes that are upsetting and relatable for everyone, there is hope in the end. Through the newborn baby, there is hope, potential, and desire, and that is what is important. That is what we need to continue in life, even if the reality doesn't live up to the desire.
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