Starring: Isabelle Huppert, André Marcon, Roman Kolinka
Director: Mia Hansen-Løve
Running Time: 102 mins
Things To Come (L’avenir) is a French film about a philosophy teacher who soldiers on through a series of hardships, from the end of her marriage to losing her job and more, finding solace in a small newfound sense of freedom.
Although it’s not quite as riveting and deeply affecting as it may want to be, Things To Come succeeds in being a brilliantly contemplative drama full of intelligence, bettered by an excellent central performance from Isabelle Huppert, as well as very assured and confident directing from Mia Hansen-Løve.
Let’s start off on the bright side, and look at Isabelle Huppert’s performance. A legendary actress in every right, she puts in another great showing in Things To Come with a subtle but very strong performance from start to finish.
Working in tandem with the film’s most brilliant element, centring on a woman who takes every hardship and battles through them, no matter how difficult it may seem, Huppert gives her character a clearly strong-willed and confident appearance at every moment, making her relentless strength in the face of some very difficult moments in her life all the more poignant.
What’s more is that that element of the story is backed up well by Mia Hansen-Løve’s directing. Although I won’t say the film is the most consistently engrossing watch, what Hansen-Løve does very well is replicate that strength of the main character by always avoiding melodrama and looking deeper into this woman’s resolve rather than trying to illicit too much sentimentality from the audience, something we don’t often see in this sort of drama.
Despite all that, however, I have to say that there are elements of Things To Come that just don’t work for me. For one, the screenplay isn’t quite up to the standard of the directing and lead performance. Although the overall premise is fascinating and intelligent, the overall structure of the screenplay is often a little wobbly, and particularly in the film’s underwhelming final act, things don’t really come together and hit you in the way that I felt the film deserved.
What’s more is that there aren’t any particularly interesting characters besides the leading lady. Whilst Huppert and Hansen-Løve work brilliantly to craft that central character, Hansen-Løve doesn’t manage to bring anyone else quite as engrossing into the fray, and the main supporting characters, ranging from this woman’s mother, husband and former student, generally don’t have the impact on the story or on you that they really need.
On the whole, Things To Come works well as a one-character contemplative piece, thanks to an excellent central performance and strong directing. However, the screenplay as a whole doesn’t quite match up to that, and the film struggles to cement its strong atmosphere in its plot, often wobbling around rather than reinforcing the most engrossing elements of the story, and that’s why I’m giving this film a 7.1 overall.