A female character in French cinema, who demonstrates a certain level-headedness in the midst of a marriage breaking down after many years, is how Isabelle Huppert likes to break the mould
Isabelle Huppert is one of the most famous French faces in cinema. Winner of numerous awards, from a BAFTA to a César, Huppert’s recent film is a take on French contemporary settings, turned around a little bit. Set in Paris, in Things to Come, Isabelle plays a woman from the bourgeois class – Nathalie likes to live in her own mind, where there are plenty of things to enjoy. As Nathalie, Isabelle brought to the fore a new kind of decidedly different heroine whose marriage is falling apart at the seams but rather than be torn apart at the thought of it, the moment kind of invites her to go through a sudden period of self-discovery.
The film had a Berlinale premiere, and even made itself a contender for the Golden Bear and it’s not surprising to observe why. Isabelle portrays a fighting spirit in Things to Come and there is a little bit of herself in the film but the fighting spirit isn’t a mean-kind, or a kind that likes to be a brave fighting spirit; the fighting spirit demonstrated by the protagonist in the movie is more about taking control of one’s own life and making sure that it is obvious to all around that a person’s life falling apart does not mean that they must succumb to a pitiful and sorrow-filled state.
What Isabelle does is really push the boundaries in people’s minds about what it actually means to be a female – it’s most certainly a good beginning to a goodbye to the days of unrelatable showy creativity in French cinema because what Isabelle manages to do is usher in a new kind of heroine, who makes realism look like a great thing for a change; it’s most definitely a very pragmatic direction for a heroine’s narrative to take.