Imagine your platonic ideal of a bad French independent film. That’s Things to Come. 102 minutes of sad old people talking about philosophy and even then it’s worse than you expect. The film starts three years in the past with an almost wordless flashback, it ends one year in the future. In the interim she loses her mother, her husband and her publishing deal. Quite what any of this means or why you’re supposed to empathise with the bougie-ass woman who seemingly has her life figured out enough to be on a damn train every ten minutes to somewhere else picturesque in the countryside.
Her young protégé lives in a secluded farm with an anarchist collective. They makes cheese apparently and write on philosophy. I don’t see any cows or goats or sheep. They seem to have a pretty decent life. Our hero mourns her city apartment and the fact that she lost the fire of her youth, she doesn’t do anything about it really. The young man, condemns her security and the fact that she never acts on her beliefs. We don’t see this idiot do a single thing. He turns up ragged and handsome, he was at a protest, some people got arrested. Not him though, he seems unfazed by the whole ordeal. There are no consequences for anyone is this damn picture.
Her now ex-husband takes more than his fair share of their books. Twat. She shit-talks the guy in front of her children. Twat. She is cursed with the care of her deceased mother’s pet cat. The films best character by the way. At least the cat presents an onscreen presence that is some sort of compelling. But her allergies, she can’t cope! What allergies? You live with the thing for over a year, you ain’t sneezing, you ain’t got no rash, you ain’t red in the eyes. If this is the most traumatising part of your mother’s death you live one blessed life.
There are few moments of genuine humanity through the flick, a scene in the countryside where Nathalie (that’s her name by the way) tries to find mobile signal is pretty great. Likewise with a scene where she’s trying to find her lost cat. Hell, even some of the philosophical discussions are compelling. One in which the nature of credit and authorship when publishing as part of a collective is debated as either structuralist or anti-structuralist is interesting. Unfortunately most of the interaction with philosophy is in name checking the big hitters, like your annoying mate dropping movie references (full disclosure, I am this annoying mate). ‘I didn’t know your collection included Žižek.’ She says. ‘Oh fuck off.’ I reply.
Thing to Come, an appropriate name, I can only assume all the interesting action takes place after the cameras stopped rolling.
We don’t even get to see anyone naked.