“Things to Come”: a philosophy professor faces “real life”

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Things to Come” is an engaging French (“L’avenir”) drama about an aging philosophy professor, directed  and written by Mia-Hansen Love.  At the first glance, I would wonder if professor Nathalie Chazeaux (Isaeblle Huppert) is a dilettante polymath sophist from the conclusion of H.G. Wells’s book “The Shape of Things to Come”.

Nathalie appears to be teaching college freshman, at a time when there are campus protests and professors who come to work are derided as “scabs”. There is talk of 1968, and of the setting of Bernado Bertolucci’s “The Dreamers” (2003), where Michael Pitt’s character Matthew “gets it” in one scene, and has to resist crotch shaving by a quirky couple in a late scene.

This movie, however, will stay on only a slightly kinder and gentler course.  Nathalie is publishing a revised philosophy text, but her publisher is giving her a hard time about selling books, wants to make a lot of jazzy changes, and threatens to drop her later, which could jeopardize her teaching job. There is some suggestion that the book is self-published.

She also has to deal with her mother (Anna Chancellor), sinking into dementia and Alzheimer’s, with the early symptoms of depression and manipulation of others.  She winds up putting mom into assisted living, and then mom starves herself to get attention.  On top of all of this, her obese, undesirable husband  (Robin Renucci) leaves her for another woman, despite their having two good sons, one grown, and one a mature teen. The family also has a huge tabby charismatic cat, Pandora, who seems to be trying to hold the family together.  This feline becomes the star of the movie.

That cat really loved mom (the way a dog would) and sensed something was wrong (don’t think cats don’t love their owners). But Pandora gradually gets used to the rest of the family and traveling with Chazeaux, in a cat box, by train, to a new hideaway with her own new boyfriend, two decades younger, one of her own former students Theo (Louis Garrel), in the Alps in the southeast, in an egalitarian, intentional community. They sit around and read somewhat Marxist poems and are supposed to be living off the grid – but their cell phones work when they need them.  Pandora runs out into the mountains, and returns for her human companions, offering them a mouse as a trophy.

Name:  “Things to Come
Director, writer:  Mia Hansen-Love
Released:  2016/12
Format:  1.85:1
When and how viewed:  Cinema Arts, Fairfax VA, 2017/1/2, fair audience
Length:  100
Rating:  R
Companies:  Sundance Selects, IFC
Link:  official site

Wikipedia image of Mont Blanc.

(Posted: Tuesday, June 3, 2017 at 2:15 PM EST)