The Crusader Newspaper Group

“The Forest For The Trees” shows pain of isolation

By Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J.

Streaming service Film Movement Plus offers free 30-day trial

The debut feature by Director Maren Ade, winner of the 2005 Sundance Film Festival Special Jury Prize for World Cinema, “The Forest For The Trees” is bursting with idealism. Melanie Pröschle, a shy young teacher from the countryside, starts her first job at a high school in the city.

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Eva Löbau as Melanie in “The Forest For The Trees, a grueling character study about loneliness and bullying in a world of exclusion.

Desperate to fulfill her hopes, Melanie intends to do everything the right way, introducing herself to her neighbors with homemade schnapps, and giving an ambitious speech for her colleagues on the first day of school. She wants to be a “fresh breeze” to the school, but it’s hard to avoid that she is trying too hard, and the other teachers bristle at her attempts while her students jump at the chance to exploit her weakness.

“The Forest For The Trees” makes a viewer sympathetic toward the main character, Melanie.

She tries too hard both in her school and in her personal life. Her overzealous demeanor forces others to find her off putting—not to want to be her friend.

Her neighbor, Tina, is interested in a friendship at first, but after a while Melanie inserts herself into Tina’s life a bit too much.

And not only the students in her class shun her, with a few bullying her and threatening her around grades, her colleagues seem to scoff at any new idea that she suggests.

Melanie’s obsession isn’t on the scale of the film “Single White Female,” because I look at her desire for companionship as a need to have some positive interaction after she has left her home town in Germany.

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She painfully yearns for more and tries to ask her colleagues and Tina out on get togethers. She lies about her school break vacation, making others think that she had a great time out of town with a friend.

She keeps tripping over herself—or getting in her own way—as she simply seeks a friend, any friend, to help make her life more fulfilling.

Alluding to the film’s title, the “forest” would be meaningful relationships, and the “trees” would be the obstacles that she puts up via the odd manner in which she is going about creating those friendships. She is faced with a so-called social isolation not of her making—even in the midst of so many others interacting socially in an otherwise functioning society.

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Dennis Rubin Green and Ian Alsup star in “August The First,” another film in the streaming library of Film Movement Plus.

“The Forest For The Trees,” in German with English subtitles, is available on Film Movement Plus. To help break the stay-at-home boredom and to entice consumers, the streaming service is now offering a 30-day FREE TRIAL and 50 percent off the first month. Take a dive and check out a burgeoning library offering 450+ feature films, docs & shorts — all award-winners from around the globe.

As I mentioned, there are a great number of films to enjoy. In next week’s Crusader issue, I’ll review “August The First,” a film about a young African-American man named Tunde, whose family throws him a graduation party, but they have no idea that he has arranged for his estranged African father to attend—a man who is struggling financially in Lagos, Nigeria, and who has more than just a graduation party on his agenda.

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