Film review: Things to Come (L’avenir). The Roxy Cinema, Axbridge.
Pandora the grumpy black cat is the unexpected star of a study of a life in crisis in Mia Hanson Love’s Franco-German 2016 movie Things to Come.
Philosophy teacher Natalie’s existential crisis deepens as her theoretical ideas are challenged by striking students that disrupt her classes, her husband has an affair and her mother dies. To add complications she is left to look after Pandora the cat and is pushed out of her job by modernisers.
Natalie played with an understated naturalism by Isabell Huppert never knowingly cracks a smile until she picks up her grandson or briefly flirts with her handsome ex-student Fabien played by Roman Kolinka.
She keeps a straight (if pained) face throughout her trials as her gone to seed and seriously pissed off husband Heinz (André Marcon) leaves her for a dark haired Spanish woman – much to her surprise and anger. Her supressed rage is neatly symbolised by her crushing his gift of flowers into a bin which in a way encapsulates much of the repressed emotions of the characters. Is Fabian just a beautiful falsehood of an intellectual? Was Natalie’s life-long promotion of philosophical ideas just a front? Is she really just another woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown as things fall apart? Or is she like us all as life moves on and those once precious touchstones of a time are cast aside?
The beautiful settings, the enviable bourgeois lifestyles and stylish living are in contrast to the misery and the disappointment of failing relationships and broken dreams. Where is Natalie’s life going? Is she about to elope with a man 30 years younger? Or is she to be the constant guardian of a grumpy black cat – one of the moments in the film which are laugh-out-loud funny.
A film about new beginnings and of how life moves on to a new phase despite the painful transition from a past that once seemed so complete, but are now just bitter sweet memories symbolised by Natalie taking the news of her mother’s demise ankle deep in mud at the Brittany holiday home of her soon to be ex-husband’s family.
Top marks for Denise Lenoir’s cinematography and Huppert’s ability to take it all on the chin with only the odd momentary melt down. The critics called it a classic piece of French cinema but with the stayed emotions it could be just as easily British. Keeping it all together seems a universal thing.
The first in the Roxy’s new season of post Brexit European Film Club offerings was introduced by Nico Mann in French as he expressed gratitude and hope for the future as the cinema was packed for the European movie. Not a Brexiteer in sight.
The next movie in the European Film Club’s calendar is appropriately the Spanish drama Mujeres al Borde de un Ataque de ‘Nervios’ or Woman on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown on March 3. 2020.
The film was reviewed at the Axbridge Roxy Community Cinema. For more details of their films visit www.axbridgeroxy.org.uk
For details for the work of the journalist Harry Mottram visit www.harrymottram.co.uk