Thursday, 15 September 2016

REVIEW - THINGS TO COME (MIA HANSEN-LOVE)


Where other films might require their audience to do a spot of research before viewing, Mia Hansen-Love's Things to Come instead inspires its audience to do its research after viewing. Dense with philosophy and politics, it is nevertheless light in its application of these driving themes, and boy do they ever drive! Inviting us to examine life through the philosophical perspective adopted by its characters, the film models itself as an otherwise plain, familiar middle-age melodrama, encouraging us to probe further into its intellectual, emotional and formal complexity. Hansen-Love is a consummately non-melodramatic director, however, with an exquisitely subtle, quietly expressive style of filmmaking, stemming from a script that wears its intelligence on its sleeve yet never demands the viewer to match it in this regard. You needn't know much about Pascal nor Rousseau, nor even be particularly well-versed in the political constitution of Europe in the late 20th Century to appreciate Things to Come, though indubitably the greater one's knowledge, the richer the experience. And equally so for one's sympathies, since Hansen-Love has nothing but sympathy for her characters. Her flattering opinion on each engenders a fine, fresh outlook on Isabelle Huppert's teacher cast adrift by forces beyond her control, permitting her the freedom to pick whatever path she wishes to take in undergoing such personal upheaval - whatever path she chooses, so long she does so sincerely, will not even be a choice. It's a liberating take on liberation, and fully exploited by Huppert, arguably never as radiant as she is here. Hansen-Love does allow other roles to sink into under-developed parody, however, and regularly seems blind to the ironic limitations of her societal purview. But what she does depict is done with diligence, sensitivity and, most of all, supreme cleverness.