Friday, October 7, 2016

NYFF Spotlight: Things to Come

I’m thrilled to be covering a number of selections from the 54th Annual New York Film Festival, which takes place September 30th-October 16th.

Things to Come
Directed by Mia Hansen-Love
NYFF Screenings

Those who teach as a profession have countless opportunities throughout their lives to learn lessons, and they incorporate what they have experienced into the way that they pass knowledge along to others. There is often just as much about how to navigate the world that evades them as they are able to grasp, and that is part of the reason that they make such great film subjects. Nathalie (Isabelle Huppert) is a high school philosophy teacher whose prime motivator is to encourage others to use every moment to think. As Nathalie faces certain personal challenges at home, all aspects of her life come together to cause her to contemplate what she really wants and needs.

“Things to Come,” a film that boasts an interesting title that could have many meanings, starts from an intriguing vantage point. Nathalie is a lifelong intellectual married to a man who could well be described as the same, and it’s clear that her two children have gotten used to her turning every meal or family interaction into a chance to think critically. Her elderly mother is deteriorating in a way that seems expressly designed to cause Nathalie anguish and constantly interrupt every quiet moment she finds. Students are protesting outside the school and trying to bar entry to other students, representing a very real threat to the state of education and the stimulation of the mind that Nathalie does not take lightly. The return of a former student who has become a successful writer in his own right offers Nathalie some solace that she has had the impact she hoped to have on at least one person.

Huppert is an established actress who continues to make new movies on a regular basis, even appearing in another major NYFF selection this year. She projects a certain aura, one that commands respect even though she rarely raises her voice and is not far from physically intimidating. Director Mia Hansen-Love is at the beginning of her career, but with only four feature films to date, has already established herself as a filmmaker committed to telling rich stories about the relationships between families and lovers. Pairing the two makes this film a strong follow-up to “The Father of My Children” and “Goodbye First Love,” proving that Huppert has plenty of superb roles left to play and that Hansen-Love is just getting started.


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