samarthbhaskar’s review published on Letterboxd :
There's a passage from Rousseau that Nathalie (Isabelle Huppert who is, perhaps next to Juliette Binoche and Maggie Cheung, the best working actress in the world) teaches to her students in the 3rd act of this film. It is a passage about desire supplanting or superseding happiness. That it is the expectation of something good happening that brings true pleasure. That it is this hope for things to come that is the source of pleasure. Not the things themselves coming to fruition. Like most good philosophy or art, this idea has since been corroborated by cognitive science. It is not receiving a reward that lights the pleasure centers of a lab rat's brain, but the expectation that it will receive a reward.
Nathalie, a 60-something mother, teacher, daughter, divorcee, slowly gains new freedom in this story. Throughout this film, she gains tiny bits of hope. Her life has new possibilities. And this is pleasurable. She can live her life fully for the first time in a long time. Without the burden of the radicalism of youth or a heavy cat.
I found this film incredibly inspiring and hopeful. Nathalie is a strong character. Her reactions to things are natural. The journey she goes through is understated but as transformative as any character in any epic.