Sometimes, a film behaves like a person. To cope with languid people, Antonioni and Resnais make languid films; to cope with insolent people, Tarantino and Scorsese make insolent films. The same can be said for Løve’s film, about an overwrought person.
No scene lasts much more than a minute. Indeed, most shots are so fleeting and unceremonious, that the film seems to be woven almost entirely from these restless moments. When Huppert finds herself alone, with nothing to do, she perches on the arm of a chair like a mayfly, willing the shot to end so that she might be busy again. And when she cries, the scene will snap shut before the first tear has fallen.
The result of this a coldness. The peculiarity lies in the realisation that this is not a beautiful film. It has all the materials to be, but it is in too much of a rush. It has no time for symbolism, or poetry, or music, or anything else that might warm the hands. There is very little in the way of close-ups, for there is no time for faces. Huppert’s face is just something she takes round with her, no longer the well of theatre.
The camera copes with Huppert like an acquaintance, who once tried desperately to be sympathetic, but has long since given up. Subsequently it has realised the only way to keep up is to skid over the world as Huppert does. Huppert skids so hurriedly because she is so sad. She cannot be still for fear she will think upon it; from her grief she must stay constantly distracted.
And herein this unhappy relation lies the beauty, that at first seemed so scarce. It appears that evocation is possible in the negative. To see Huppert treated so cruelly by Løve musters a breed of sympathy far more complicated and nuanced than those of great long weepy scenes, over-ripe. It is the reverse of a movie like ‘Julieta’, something swollen with subjectivity. Consider grief’s great swell of the ocean and bruised knot of thunder-clouds in Almodovar’s, against the Huppert’s mother’s funeral.
Løve seems to have landed upon an alternative. As it turns out, a viable tactic is to neglect your characters. Løve resigns as Huppert’s director, as subconscious go-between – she exhibits none of the empathy or sensitivity of the Artist. Løve’s film behaves like Huppert inasmuch that it can’t, or won’t, feel anything. And when we catch up, Huppert’s face is unfamiliar.
World Cinema, Drama | France, 2015 |12 | Curzon Artificial Eye | 7th November 2016(UK) | Dir.Mia Hansen-Løve | Isabelle Huppert, Andre Marcon,Roman Kolinka | Buy:Things To Come [DVD]