French filmmaker Mia Hansen-Løve is 35, and Things to Come is her fifth feature. But while 2014’s Eden explored the pleasures and perils of youth, the new film revolves around a 63-year-old woman. Aside from the fact that Hansen-Løve, the daughter of philosophy teachers, avoids the stereotypes usually associated with films about older women, it's more about change than age.
During the course of the film, Nathalie (played by Isabelle Huppert), a philosophy teacher, loses her marriage and her mother (the formidable Edith Scob), but those things happen to younger women, too. She also tangles with a publishing company that wants to bastardize her textbook to boost sales. But just when it seems as if things can't get much worse, they don't.
In a different film, she might seek revenge on the cheating husband or find her own age-inappropriate lover. Instead, she reconnects with a former student (Eden's Roman Kolinka) who shares a home with friends in the Rhône-Alpes. In their warm, if slightly critical embrace, she finds salvation.
Unlike Paul Verhoeven's upcoming Huppert-starring thriller Elle, there's no mystery at play, but Huppert keeps things riveting, whether Nathalie is cooing over a baby or stressing about a cat. At the film's outset, she asks, "Can we put ourselves in the place of the other?" It’s exactly what her director has done, and Things to Come is as much a work of empathy as a portrait of the kind of woman usually consigned to the margins of American cinema.