The Forest For the Trees
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With high hopes, mousy Melanie dumps her boyfriend and leaves home to start her teaching career, armed with alternative methods and bright-eyed optimism. Soon enough, though, storm clouds begin to form: she's consistently tortured by rebellious students and rejected by her colleagues. There's no comfort in her personal life, either, as the loneliness of the big city begins to take its toll. Eager for some kind of companionship aside from the creepy Thorsten, the only co-worker her age, Melanie orchestrates a "chance meeting" with her attractive neighbor and begins to insinuate herself into her neighbor's life. Just like at work, her efforts at a social life fail spectacularly, and Melanie slowly dissolves into desperation and a final, unexpected act. Winner - Sundance Film Festival. In German with English subtitles.
Winner - Special Jury Prize - Sundance Film Festival
Winner - Best Film - Newport Int'l Film Festival
Winner - Best Actress - Newport Int'l Film Festival
Official Selection - Toronto Int'l Film Festival
Official Selection - LA Film Festival
Official Selection - San Francisco Int'l Film Festival
Official Selection - Vancouver Int'l Film Festival ---
Insightful, affecting and tightly realized... --Screen Daily
A precisely modulated ﬁrst film... --Variety
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This film was shot in 26 days in both Karlsruhe and Baden-Baden. There is a certain "live" feel to this production, giving this production a somewhat budget appearance.
The story itself was sad. Melanie (Daniela Holz) starts a new job as a 5th-grade teacher but gets rejected by both the students and the school faculty. She is left to hang on her own, with colleagues talking about her behind her back. Her low self esteem keeps her from seeking advice; instead, she crawls deeper into her insecurities.
The one man who is her peer turns out to be a creep, and another neighbor woman seems totally inconvenienced by Melanie's presence. Indeed Melanie desperately tries to develop friendships with other women, only to get rejected. She's so lonely and desperate yet hides her pain from her own mother, whom she tells nothing of her travails. Instead, she spends time watching her neighbors through her window, keeping her eye out on one particular woman whom she wanted to have as a friend.
All this is quite common in new teachers. But what did seem out-of-place is her quick resolve at the end of this film.
How Melanie resolves her problems, though, proved disappointing.
of a socially isolated young schoolteacher's gradual breakdown has an
amazing, complex central performance, as well as strong supporting
work, and intelligent writing.
A major case of substance triumphing over form, lack of money, and lack
of experience. A film that takes you into the heart of loneliness.
Not easy or 'fun' to watch, but deeply rewarding.