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Things to Come/L'Avenir


Stars: Isabelle Huppert, Andre Marcon, Roman Kolinka, Edith Scob, Sarah Le Picard, Solal Forte, Elise Lhomeau, Lionel Dray, Gregoire Montana-Haroche, Lina Benzerti

Director: Mia Hansen-Love

It’s interesting to consider what a lesser actress might have made of filmmaker Mia Hansen-Love’s sensitive screenplay and equally perceptive direction.

That said, Isabelle Huppert’s riveting performance is a genuine tour de force – an absolutely appropriate description, given that L’Avenir/Things to Come is a French film.

It is hard to imagine a better portrayal of the French philosophy teacher who, never happier than with her students, is suddenly faced with having to come to terms with a life disrupted far more than she could ever have contemplated when her husband walks out on her after 25 years of marriage,

When her husband Andre Marcon leaves her for one of his students, Huppert consoles herself with the remark “I’m lucky to be fulfilled intellectually. That’s reason enough to be happy”, before inevitably discovering the emotionally wounding way that intellectual fulfillment only really works well on an intellectual level, leaving her to cope with the inevitable psychological traumas brought on by her situation.

Huppert is mesmerizing, trying to adjust to loneliness, as she fights to win back her emotional – and physical life: she loses her job and battles with publishers who are set to revamp her classic textbook to meet trendy landmarks and, worse still, she has to deal with her elderly and bloody minded-mother (Edith Scob) who, increasingly ill, fights to avoid hospitalization only to give in and then die…

In synopsis, the storyline may seem rather melodramatic. On screen, however, Huppert and Hansen-Love, transform it into an enthralling emotional experience dominated by an unforgettable central performance.

(And pray Hollywood doesn’t try to remake the film with, say, Meryl Streep).

Alan Frank

France/Germany 2016. UK Distributor: Curzon/Artificial Eye. Colour.
102 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 1, Swearing 1.

Review date: 08 Sep 2016