When two years ago I was about to choose the courses for my upcoming erasmus semester, what drew my attention first was the cinema one. I was even more interested considering the fact, that the course tutor, during the opening day, refering to my forever-love-France-and -french-culture-and-people declaration, has foretelled: You´ll hate it. I hate it.
I hadn´t known yet, that instead of cinema, the course will focus on the society captured with a watchfull eye of the camera. Until then I associated french cinema with poster screenshots from A Bout de souflle, fringes and over-the-top monologues recited by grumpy characters with cigarettes held in mouth. However, watching the profesor´s selection of movies, the society issues was an important, but still, background. In raw, sometimes lazy narration I´ve found the rightest approach to the human being itself.
Human and mechanisms of his winding thoughts have always been the center of interest for the seventh muse, especially for the french one, and that´s why it´s so easy to hate it or love it- the action has been given up for the dialogue and the prosaic pictures of everyday life, where outwardly insignificant element can ruin the fragile equilibrium. In all that plot simplicity there comes a real challenge; put yourself in the boots of other ordinary person, with all her or his spectrum of imperfections and try to assimilate his emotions in its purest form.
This is what Mia Hansen-Løve does in her newest film, aprecciated at the festivals all over the world. The true-born woman portrayed with unearthly naturality by one of one of the best living actresses Isabelle Huppert, has to deal with the series of unfortunate events- her husband leaving her for another woman after 25 years of marriage, pschycotic episodes of her ill- balanced mother and unprofitable changes including her own publication. Being used to associating the maturity rather with looking back, we can´t help but feel a sting of resentment when discovering that for the teacher, catastrophical changes are a prelude to liberty. The future hides in a loss and lack of certainity, as her beloved Descartes used to emphasize.
Mulitlevelness of this simple story allows everyone to find their important lesson. Talking with her ex student, she refers to the marriage breakdown. It´s not easy, she says, but fortunately I have a rich intelectual life. For me, what´s brought to the fore in the movie, is passion. As in previous Hansen´s-Løve movie, Eden, we can observe the evolution of it; this time, instead of young dj, the mature teacher sheds some different light on it. Philosophy pushes Nathalie to reorganise her life without an unnecessary drama, becoming her magnifying glass. With a cartesian rationality she observes how her former life collapses into pieces and doesn’t try to put it back in the same order. It doesn´t mean that she hasn´t her moments of weakness. However, she gets up and embraces what future brings. Some would call Nathalie cold. But seeing in everyday life all these woman imprisoned in their airless relationships, where partner is the main point of interest, I find her rather a free person. As Mia Hansen-Løve claims in the interview with Indie Wire, that was her objective:
I am telling a story about a
character who is free, in all ways in which she can be free. It’s really about
freedom, about a woman who loses everything, and at the point when she’s lost
everything, she finds herself. It is about how inner freedom can help you
through the hard times in life. It’s about faith, strength and it all depends
on freedom. Philosophy is really about that, too.
Philosophy, as it often happens, could be an obstacle for the general perception of the movie, but here it´s rather an integral element of Nathalie large-scale portrait. Confronted with the dillemas of her former favourite student and other young anarchists, building an alternative little community on the province of Rhone-Alpes region, she says: I´ve been there, but doesn´t get involved in a further conversation. She avoids giving a statement on the student´s protest against the reform. Just let me work, she repeats all over again. She loves philosophy, but until her world tears apart, she does not really have time to apply it in real life.
The main reason why Things to Come amazed me, is the fact, that you choose your own punch line.