By: Henry J. Fromage (Two Beers) –
Probably the best film reviewer out there today (give or take an Ignatiy Vishnevetsky), Jessica Kiang, has long proselytized for young director Mia Hansen-Love, and I’ve just now got into her short but undeniably quality oeuvre.
One of the best music films of the decade- seriously.
Things to Come sees Hansen-Love team with the legendary Isabelle Huppert, the French Meryl Streep for those who just learned about her at this year’s Oscars. In it, Huppert plays a professor who begins to lose everything she thought defined her life- but is this an end, or a beginning?
Actress and filmmaker here are such a perfect match- both prefer to focus on the subtleties and small rituals that make up a human being and their experiences. While plenty of drama transpires with this poor put-upon woman, Hansen-Love shows how life keeps moving, and Huppert does what she always does- conveys multitudes of feelings with the minutest downturn at the corner of her mouth or furrow of her brow. She really is one of our finest, and her Oscar nomination this year should be one of a Streep-like total, but any win for world cinema is fine by me.
I also liked the unique flavor these two give the professor, like the way she laughs when she sees her cad of a husband with the woman he’s cheating on her with on the street, but finally gets angry when she sees he’s taken her philosophy books with her notes in them. Her hunky former student, played by Roman Kolinka, Hansen-Love’s Eden star, is also quite excellent, and well-rounded with a minimum of sketched-in details.
This is a complex film emotionally in a way that never betrays nor strays focus from the central character, with more than a few laughs earned the same way. Hansen-Love is just 35, but displays the skillset of a storyteller and filmmaker with that many years in the business. This extends to technical prowess, as well- whether shooting in the crowded nighttime squares of Paris or the bucolic woods of a commune, Hansen-Love and her Eden DP Denis Lenoir fill the frame with vibrant movement and soft, saturated colors, and as always she paints as much with song choice as with color. A joy to watch.
Huppert’s character is practically Job in this, and some of her travails start to strain the realism. While unfortunately far from science fiction for women anywhere in the world, the Pepe LePew motherfucker who tries to kiss her when she sits next to him in a movie theater then follows her to the street to corner her and try again is the egregious example. At very least that kind of man wouldn’t be watching Abbas Kiarostami’s Certified Copy.
This seems more like it.
Things to Come is authentic and character-driven drama with good life lessons delivered organically- they don’t often make them like this anymore.
Things to Come (2016) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: for philosophical and political discussions
Take a Drink: for each new bad turn in Huppert’s life
Take a Drink: for gatherings of youth
Take a Drink: kitty!
Do a Shot: Bye, kitty!