A look at Things To Come (M)…
ISABELLE Huppert must rate as one of the most in-demand actresses on the planet at the moment.
She’s seriously busy so it was a delight to see Isabelle in her latest film.
Here Huppert plays philosophy professor Nathalie, a committed woman who’s facing three major life crises.
In between breaching student protests and blockades at her own Paris university she’s got two big family problems.
Her mother (Edith Scob) is a former model teetering on the brink of instability. Her favourite course of action when she’s feeling unwell is to ring the fire brigade.
After one call-out the brigade leader tells Nathalie her mother’s well-being is a family responsibility and not the fire brigade’s. Their responsibility is to attend blazes in buildings and factories and not treat people with psychological disorders in their own apartments.
So Nathalie needs to decide what to do with a parent who requires constant care and attention and seems to love her overweight cat Pandora more than her daughter and adult grandchildren.
And then Nathalie’s domestic life unravels. Husband Heinz (Andre Marcon), a professor far more right-wing than his left-leaning wife, declares one evening he’s met a new woman.
She demands he move out of their apartment only to find when returning home after classes one evening that, even though he’s gone, Heinz has taken a fair swag of her own cherished texts and reference books.
To cap it all there’s big changes at the publishing house which controls the printing of her popular philosophy textbook.
Nathalie sits down with two young new representatives of the publishers who inform her that serious revisions will be needed if a new edition is to go to press.
There’s some relief for Nathalie, though, as she meets up again with a former student Fabien (Roman Kolinka).
Could there be a hint of attraction here? She visits the commune he and friends have set up in a remote mountain retreat in the French Alps where books and ideas are discussed over meals and wine at an idyllic outdoor setting.
Nathalie has an unshakeable bond with her books. So she has an instant rapport with Fabien and his comrades yet soon discovers her former student has his own girlfriend.
These two each earn a small wage from teaching at a high school in a nearby mountain town.
So Nathalie wanders alone along the mountain tracks to find a safe grassy spot to lie down and continue her reading.
Writer-director Mia Hansen-Love uses music tracks to great effect in her movie.
When Fabien collects Nathalie from the rustic railway station to drive her to the mountain retreat Woody Guthrie’s Ship In The Sky is playing on the radio.
She remarks to her former student that it’s a great change — and a real relief — to hear something new, and not constant repeats of Schubert and Strauss played at home in Paris by Heinz.
“We listened to the same records for years,” Nathalie tells Fabien. “I’m sick of them.”
Then very poignantly as the closing credits roll we hear a haunting rendition of the Fleetwoods’ Unchained Melody, a track close to my heart.
I listen a lot to my own favourite version of the very same track, but by Fifties superstars: the Platters.