TIFF 2016: Things to Come Review

Special Presentations

I could not bring myself to enjoy Mia Hansen-Løve’s Things To Come. Despite a strong performance by Isabelle Huppert, the script is both too verbose and too empty to make for a memorable film. 

Huppert plays Nathalie, a jaded philosophy professor who witnesses the crumbling of her life, and attempts to re-energize it by matching wits and spirit with a former student, Fabien (Roman Kolinka). A problem that I had with this film is that characters constantly deliver expository dialogue. Nathalie essentially summarizes the plot of the film in the car with Fabien: saying that she’s found freedom and a new lease on life with him. Obviously. 

On the flip side, the representation of the heady intellectual life is devoid of any context whatsoever. We hear students espouse lines that sound intelligent but we are only allowed to skim the surface of the topics they’re discussing. Nathalie and company are very well read, and presumably the name dropping is intended to achieve some effect – perhaps illustrating how Nathalie enjoys engaging in abstract thought but fails to put it in practice – but I gave up on trying to understand the shallow ideas and allusions to presumably dead white male philosophers. Perhaps more lessons from Nathalie as a prof, or a more complex look at the striking students outside of her classroom might have gone a long way to tying everything together. As it stands, the film seems superficial and shallow.

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Things to Come tries too hard to be accessible and high-brow at the same time.

Screening:

Sunday Sept. 11, 9:15am @ TIFF Bell Lightbox 2

Michael McNeely is a deaf-blind film critic and an advocate for greater accessibility in our cinemas. Read more about his story here.

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