#AFF2016 — Women Who Kill, L’Avenir (Things To Come) reviews

Women Who Kill

Written and Directed by Ingrid Jungermann | 93 min

Morgan (writer/director Jungermann) and Jean (Ann Carr) are  ex-lovers who co-host a podcast about female serial killers and live together in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Their morbid fascination with ladies who deal death isn’t entirely explained, but it does bind them together in ways that have virtually extended their relationship. But when Morgan meets Simone (Sheila Vand, from A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night) at her co-op grocery store gig, the love affair starts quickly shutting out everyone else in Morgan’s life. Morgan’s friends start to suspect there’s something weird (and potentially deadly) about Simone.


The dry humour in the script for Women Who Kill is its best feature; droll, deadpan, and quick to poke at the self-satisfied Brooklyn hipster culture. That said, some of the performances and directorial choices feel like amateur hour. While at least some of that can be put down to simple budgetary constraints, the film falls apart in the last 15 minutes after building up the is-she-or-isn’t-she-a-killer suspense and then refusing to answer its own question. It could be that Jungermann is just doing too much as director, writer and star.

It is great to see veteran actor Annette O’Toole on screen again, here playing an imprisoned murderer. She’s a delight. I remember her fondly as Lana Lang from the Christopher Reeve Superman films.


 L’Avenir (Things To Come)


Written and Directed by Mia Hansen-Løve | 102 min

At Carbon Arc we regularly screen French films, and we’ve joked about the cultural obsessions that run like a pulsing vein through French cinema. Those themes include older men falling in love with much younger women, and a knack for melodrama. Whatever you call the opposite of melodrama, that’s L’Avenir—a drama where everyone acts from a cerebral and down-to-earth perspective, with no  outrageous emotional displays or monologues.

There is a lot of talking, though: Natalie (Isabelle Huppert) is a philosophy professor and textbook author working at a Parisienne college. Her life seems pretty good: she’s been married for 25 years to Heinz (André Marcon) and has two kids, a mother (Sarah Le Picard) who is depressed, and a strong friendship with one of her favourite students, Fabien (Roman Kolinka). But a sudden change in her married life and a death in her family forces her to reassess her priorities.


Or does it? The film is as interested in the philosophical musings of her students as it is in her lifestyle or personal crises. The story is engaging, but the human drama is particularly dry. At what point do you risk alienating your audience when every character behaves so well? The conflict is scarce.

But maybe that’s the point: The film serves as a kind of primer for post-breakup grace and the virtues of an intellectual life.

Its biggest draw and star attraction is Huppert. The interest is sustained in how she navigates these challenges. The camera follows her as she simply refuses to stop moving, resisting and any and all sentiment. This may be a cultural difference, but it’s amazing how she’s completely unfazed by the aggressive moves put on her by a stranger at the cinema who stalks her and kisses her against her will. One would imagine such a thing could be terrifying—but she brushes it off.

It’s an amazing, dominant performance. You may feel more affection for Natalie than the film seems to.

About the author


Carsten Knox is a massive, cheese-eating nerd. In the day he works as a journalist in Halifax, Nova Scotia. At night he stares out at the rain-slick streets, watches movies, and writes about what he's seeing.