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Things To Come with Isabelle Huppert

Spent yesterday battling a bug, determined not to go under – my grandson is due to come for a sleepover. His brother is going off for the day so if Eli comes to me, their mother will get a break. I cannot deny her that. So – lots of C and zinc lozenges, to the Y for a steam and sauna, tea, water, tons of turkey soup. And then early to bed with a sleeping pill. I think I’ve beaten it. I’m not feeling great, but I’m not incapacitated either.

In the afternoon, near the Y, I went to a well-reviewed film, Things to come – L’Avenir, the future, in French, written and directed by a 35-year old woman, with the fantastic Isabelle Huppert. It made me laugh; life in France is like another planet sometimes. Huppert plays a high school or college philosophy professor, and the classes of polite, beautifully dressed young people seriously pondering philosophical issues, discussing Rousseau and the Rights of Man – what world is this? It’s set maybe six or seven years ago – Sarko is President – but there are no cell phones, only intense and constant philosophical discussion, not just in the classroom, but at the dinner table. Someone gives a slim book about Plato as a gift to a newborn baby. “Never too early,” Huppert says. So French!

But it’s a haunting film, showing this capable woman’s world being dismantled, bit by bit, and yet she does not go under. Her husband leaves her, her neurotic mother dies, other things happen, but on she goes, teaching her students and parenting her two children. In fact, she shows hardly any emotion about the end of her marriage, but bursts into sobs after an argument with a favourite former student who criticizes her bourgeois lifestyle. We see her wistfully visiting him and his anarchist band, as if trying to connect to her idealistic communist youth, now long gone.

Much to think about. Two criticisms: the pace of this film, like so many French films and plays, is glacial. Long long shots, including, at the end, five motionless minutes of the empty corner of a room. Drives me mad! But the scene just before is beautiful – she has definitively shut out her husband, who’s hanging around, she cooks a superb meal for her children, and at the end, she is holding and singing a lullaby to her grandson. She takes care of everyone. As women, even philosophy professors, do.

I also wondered why she has no female friends. As MY friends know, the minute something happens in my life, I need to convey it to at least five of my closest friends. But this woman has none. Is that possible? No friends?

Anyway, it’s a fascinating movie, if too slow, good for an afternoon when I was battling aching bones. So many more films on my list – I’m way behind. Must get better and get out there. But first – across town to get the young man. He and I are scheduled to see … a movie.



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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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