Classic Cinema workshop- Things to Come- Mia Hansen Love

Mia Hansen Love’s ‘Things to Come’ is an unbelievably subtle film, the story of a middle aged woman woking through various changes in her life. Many people in our group found it subtle to the point of boring, feeling that nothing happens, that there is no drama and that the will they wont they romance plot line, frustratingly dwindles out as does the film.However, I really liked the film, it felt so tender, intelligent, true and nuanced. I knew that lead character, I believed her situation and I felt for her greatly. I saw that she could well be me, my sister, my own mother, in fact all women in times to come. I would certainly love to know how Mia pitched this gentle film, but I suppose having Isabelle Huppert star in it was all she needed to say. And in fact, a lot does happen to the protagonist, it is just dealt with with great restraint. The film is a brilliant lesson in delicate story telling, in the fact that one does not always need big plot lines to carry a film. We spend a lot of time lingering on Isabelle Huppert’s face, guessing her inner dialogue which she beautifully suggest to us. Her performance is staggering. In class we were asked to work off this film and think about moments in our own film where we can allow the pace to slow, we can let moments linger, we can allow for tone and atmosphere to be conjured rather than for story to be furthered (although arguably this occurs as a natural off shoot). I have been worrying so much about making sure enough happens in my film, so it was very refreshing to think about ways to find stillness, inaction. Ultimately I am interested in conveying the complexities of my two protagonists psyches, in being with these two women intimately throughout the film. In finding the tender nuance that Hansen Love instills so successfully in her films. I began thinking about a moment in my film when Grace comes out of an awful audition, covered in food, and walks down a London street, in the middle of the day. She finds a cafe and sits at a table. Alone and in silence. Around her couples coo at each other, young mums feed their babies and officious business woman take numerous calls. Everyone has meaning in their lives apart from Grace. I rewrote this section, extending it and allowing us to really sit with Grace in her discomfort. We linger on her face in closeup as she takes in her surroundings, she does not even need to register her sadness, as by this point this is the norm of her existence. She is at odds with her generation, she feels a futile outsider, but she cannot yet express this consciously. Her journey is her realisation of this unconscious truth. The longer I allowed this moment to play out, silently, the more pathos was created. We the audience are able to feel this lonliness, this boredom, this despondency. There is some physical humour in this moment, she is alone eating a cake surrounded by activity, but it is tinged with an honest sadness. We follow Grace as she pays, leaves and continues to meander down the busy street. Looking into office windows, at busy workers, looking in at shops selling things she cant afford. Obviously she is very lucky in many ways and  that is part of her battle, she could be helped if she could only ask for it. It was brilliant to discover how many of the films themes could come out in this sequence, a moment with no dialogue and little action.