Stars: Isabelle Huppert, André Marcon, Roman Kolinka
Released: 2nd September 2016 (UK)
Reviewer: Anmol Titoria (@titoriaanmol)
The opportunity of experiencing cinema that is so breathtakingly beautiful that its esoteric, poetic realisation of your own memories and ambition is piercing, at times even agonising, is hardly ever afforded. On a solely personal level, the perfect example of such an accomplishment is Andrei Tarkovsky’s unbounded, ethereal masterpiece ‘The Mirror’ which gifted cinema the ability, as the man himself said it, “to fix time.” Our visualisations of the past are so infinite and sans meaning that their complexity to certain viewers, who shun ambiguity, may not hold as much of a promise as they do to viewers like me who wish to employ our own reality to relish the specificity auteurs like Tarkovsky present.
Mia Hansen-Love, even with a meagre five films under her belt, stakes a claim to that status with her pristine manifestation of the human wrestling of time in ‘Things to Come’, which primarily focuses on a middle-aged philosophy professor Nathalie (Huppert) whose husband leaves her for a younger woman. Her kids have now lived self-contained lives for years and now she must find her own verity to hang on to. She uses this gift of “independence”, as she calls it, to advance her proximity to one of her prodigies, who believes he’s slowly drifting away from her staid ideologies. And while not a lot more happens, and time passes by with the causalities and emoluments of life passing Nathalie by, as if all she can do is reminisce the things gone by and laugh at the ridiculous uncertainty tomorrow would bring, even after travelling so far on the beaten down path.
Hansen-Love’s intuitive tonal balance of brittle humour and succouring emotion is, akin to Nathalie’s philosophical veins, unwavering and concrete. She doesn’t present ideas for consumption as much as she injects them into our consciousness for lending us the benefit of cradling them with the intricacy of our own whims and desires. Belonging to a breed of filmmakers whose connection to celluloid expression is still happily unresolved, she is nevertheless gracefully authoritative, without the imposition of thematic undercurrents being felt.
In arguably the most evolved performance in the career of the unarguably the most mature actor on the planet, Isabelle Huppert disappears into her filmmaker’s intentions with such unimpeachable dexterity, that it almost feels like the printed word in one of Nathalie’s philosophy books. Splash a little bit of water, and everything would be muddied. She is proffered delicate support by a small ensemble of faithful actors whose presence is explicable by the sagacity they accord to Nathalie’s internal journey.
Denis Lenoir’s 35mm weathered, sunlight-fuelled framing mirrors the sensation of reading an old, tattered book that can ratchet up a storm of incomprehensible nostalgia on just a flicker of the pages. The film’s benevolent rendition of time is a rare gift I plan to cherish for a long time to come, because like most inhumane voyages through the passage of time, the constants matter so much more than the variables.