Mia Hansen-Løve’s Things to Come offers the most distinctly French pleasures. These include apartment walls entirely filled with books, casual intellectual conversations, a nonchalant attitude toward unfaithfulness, and, most notably, Isabelle Huppert, who plays a resilient philosophy teacher at a high school in Paris. How not to love a film in which all characters seem to have read Arthur Schopenhauer and whose main character is a woman who needs Hannah Arendt more than she needs a man?
Such is Nathalie’s (Huppert) non-plight: a journey into her erudite self-sufficiency. In the film’s most Bergman-esque moment, her husband, Heinz (André Marcon), of 25 years announces, and matter of factly, that he’s met someone and will live with her. Nathalie is disappointed, but hardly crushed—like someone who hears about the death of a distant relative who was ill for a long time. She has other passions after all. Her marriage isn’t contingent to her satisfaction, but more of a defaulted décor to her bourgeois existence. When the husband leaves, she’s most shaken by the gaps left in the living room’s bookshelves. He’s less of a bastard for exchanging her for a younger woman than he is for having taken her copy of Emmanuel Levinas.