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Film Reviews: ‘Things To Come’, and ‘Get Out’

Things To Come

THINGS TO COME is a French/German film Directed by Mia Hansen-Love. Nathalie (Isabelle Huppert) in the latter two-thirds of her life, is comfortably ensconced in a professional and personal life, that of a philosophy teacher, published academic author, mother of two grown children, and wife to Heinz (Andre Marcon), also a philosopher. The routine of that life has given Nathalie a strength of identity, that she almost, lethargically, takes for granted. In the film we watch the routine of this family living ordinary but occupied lives. Lives of everyday activities that you and I have, too, but in Nathalie’s world is oiled with the stimulation of wrestling professionally, in classroom and home, with the search for the meaning of it, life, in the world of ideas, propounded by the great philosophers of the past and present – often quoted or referred to in the course of the film. Then she is confronted with her husband’s abandonment for another, younger woman. When told, she sinks into a couch and weathers the shock with internal intensity, no melodrama, no tears: “I thought you would love me forever.” She looks up and remarks that her future, her life “seems compromised”.

The film then observes the adjustments and compromises that Nathalie must make in the face of an abyss, a recognition of the inevitable aloneness whilst approaching death. What Hansen-Love shows us is a life made up of many parts that simply, relentlessly moves on, that will make demands that are not at all deflected by Nathalie’s great loss. Her publishers make demands that may make redundant her life’s work, her drama-queen mother (Edith Scob) declines rapidly and is decamped from her home, to care, to death (leaving Pandora, her cat, to which Nathalie is allergic), in a haze she navigates the interest and admiration of her students, past and present, whilst her own children begin their own lives, her son presenting her with a grandchild.

There is an engagement with one of her former, favourite students, Fabien (Roman Kolinka), now living in an anarchist’s commune in the country, that flirts (in my mind) with romantic possibilities, as she deals decisively with her husband who has begun to hover, haunt her presence. There is a sequence where Nathalie sitting in a broken car beside Fabien driving her to the anarchist commune farmhouse in the mountain heights, with pop music blaring, stripped of most everyday complications, she has a revelation of a kind of freedom that she has not had for a very long time. The scenario of the film shows us the lived experience, the in-between of an actual life without dwelling on anything melodramatic. It is brisk, brusque in its revelations of this important transition – no melodramatic lingerings.

There is no contemporary actress more suited to this resilient, thoughtful, investigative ‘soldier’ of life, practical, finding a clearsighted way to grow from the wound in Nathalie’s existence than Isabelle Huppert. She is magnificent in the mastering of a cool external demeanour whilst erupting with volcanic shifts of emotional turmoil internally. It is exactly this tension of that which Ms Huppert gives us to see externally, and to contrast it to what we can ‘read’ in tiny moments and gestures of the emotional internal, that give us the means to endow an empathy to a creation of great humanist courage and philosophic stoicism, an attitude that helps her trust that TIME changes all, will, possibly, heal all.

The French title of this film is L’Avenir – which maybe more tellingly translated as THE FUTURE. Those of us of a certain age, of certain personal experiences will find this film moving and meaningful. Sad and yet hopeful. How is it that Mia Hansen-Love, who is only 36, knows of the things she tells us of in this film? Only philosophers might know.

The film comes to us with praise and I cannot recommend it more. Do not expect an emotional catharsis in its instant but look forward to a haunting comfort in retrospection. The scenario moves so minutely, swiftly, over so much detail with such accurate observational choice that most of it will whisk-by as a mirror to your own uneventful life that you will not fully recognise as a part of the vital construct to the meaning of your own existence, until much later.

Huh! The greatness of film. The wonder of Mia Hansen-Love and Isabelle Huppert.

Get Out

GET OUT is a breakout, debut film Written and Directed by Jordan Peele. Made for $4.5 million dollars it has made some $230 million. Mr Peele is famous for a sketch comedy television show KEY and PEELE.

GET OUT, is a comic sinister suspense movie , some have called it a horror movie. It begins with a GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER? (1967) flavour as we meet Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) about to spend a weekend at his white girlfriend’s, Rose’s (Allison Williams) parents’ house. Neither her dad, Dean (Bradley Whitford), a neurosurgeon (!), or her mum, Missy (Catherine Keener), a psychiatrist (!), know that he is black. The parents are effusive and very, very liberal on meeting him at their luxurious country mansion. But then we meet two of the house servants, Georgina (Betty Gabriel) and Walter (Marcus Henderson) and later a guest, Andrew (Lakeith Stansfield) and tingling memories of THE STEPFORD WIVES (1972)  – the original – may begin to register.

A procession of black cars arrive for a surprise ‘family’ gathering and along, later, with a broadcast video in the house we are introduced to Roman, the head of a ‘cult’, and ROSEMARY’S BABY (1968), pops into your head. Comedy and the turn of the delicate screw of suspense permeates the storytelling as it unspools. Alarm bells ring and it takes Chris’ friend, Rod (Lil Rel Howery), a security officer, to put it together and shout out: “Get Out”. What happens next is a swing into the climax of a good old fashioned horror film with blood, gore, physical struggles, revenge, and welcome relieved catharsis.

It is the satiric wit of the meaningful ‘black politics’ of this genre obedient scenario that boosts this film into a don’t miss stratosphere. The ‘stench’ of part of the USA’s history of slavery insidiously slips onto the screen with contemporary images and attitudes that could suggest that the mind set that legitimised slavery then is still inherent, unconsciously or otherwise, in the cultural/racial landscape of today. Colson Whitehead in his Pulitzer Prize winning novel: THE UNDERGROUND RAILWAY (2017), tells of the brutal importation and usage of Africans into America and weaves the unfulfilled promises of the present day into its thematics. Both these writers, Peele and Whitehead, are looking – and pointing – with a clear-eyed contemporaneous glare at modern USA and the memory of slavery.

The performances, too, are both clever and earn their money. Daniel Kaluuya as Chris Washington is wonderful, while Bradley Whitford, Catherine Keener, Allison Williams and especially Betty Gabriel, claim rights to the tension they build. I should note that the cinema photographer is Australian, Toby Oliver : LOOKING FOR ALIBRANDI (1993); BENEATH HILL 60 (2010) WOLF CREEK 2 (2013) and the TV Movie : CARLOTTA (2014).

This is a welcome addition to the 2017 film output with the political drum of BLACK LIVES MATTER, registering in the cinema. Along with MOONLIGHT (2016), but in a very different way, let us hope it is a significant movement for change in Hollywood.

Fun. Important. Go See.