Thursday, October 09, 2008

Der Wald vor lauter Bäumen (The Forest for the Trees)

This Maren Ade debut movie is really disturbing because the way the movie is filmed and the story is told in the most realistic way you can imagine. Still, it is a woman story that perhaps some of us can relate to many of the moments, if not with all the spiral down.

Tells about Melanie (Eva Loebau) an idealistic high school teacher that arrives to a new city for a new job when the school year is about half the way. Soon we start to learn about her willingness to meet new people as she does not know anyone and she does it awkwardly as her social skills are not developed for modern city ways. So, she starts to isolate herself at school and becomes really needy with a female neighbor, only to feel lonelier. What follows in a true down spiral.

The movie is filmed in video and handheld camera, with a lighting that suggests raw reality and all the tech specs only contribute to make the story vibrate and become more disturbing. Yes, the movie is disturbing but you wont be able to take your eyes from the screen, feel absolutely everything and once you’re engaged you will ride it until the end like in one long sigh.

Most viewers and reviewers tend to see the movie as a schoolteacher movie and the situations that come when you’re not really prepared to be one. I believe that this interpretation is too simplistic and repeats what you see in the screen. This movie is about loneliness, underdeveloped social skills, adapting to new surroundings and how difficult it could be for some people; being a teacher is just a setting, for example she could have been a secretary in an office and the story would have been the same. So, I suggest that if you decide to give it a try, to go beyond the obvious story and immerse yourself in the story, not the setting.

You have no idea how tense this story can become and definitively is a good movie that was acclaimed in festivals around the world and was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival where won the Special Jury Prize; also Eva Loebau won the Jury Award for Best Actress at the Newport fest and she truly deserves it as her performance is outstanding and she really makes you feel very uncomfortable watching all the character awkward attitudes.

Not a cinema masterpiece but has a story that I know will touch many women especially; still the story is so realistic that becomes disturbing and please take it as a warning if you decide to give it a try.

Absolutely not for all audiences you have to enjoy European cinema with handheld cameras and lighting that replicates reality.


No comments yet