Sunday, March 18, 2012

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

This was a painful movie to watch.  The Forest for the Trees is a good movie, but the pain of the protagonist and her professional struggles as a new teacher hit too close to home.  Melanie, young, idealistic, and a bit awkward, takes over a ninth-grade class at mid-term.  They are impossibly rude and unruly.  The other teachers and parents have no sympathy for her struggles in the classroom, making her school day miserable.  I totally related to her plight; my undistinguished teaching career fizzled out in the face of such students.  I hated every minute of it.
This movie reminded me how much I hated my students.
On top of her horrible school experience, she is a young, single girl in a new town.  She attempts to reach out to her neighbor for friendship, but makes a few too many faux pas, destroying that connection.  I have been lucky to have been able to make friends quickly, and to have a wonderful wife to share experiences with, so I couldn't relate first-hand to Melanie's social pain, but I think we all do feel lonely sometimes.

The Forest for the Trees is a very real, almost documentary-like, story of a common struggle.  Melanie, wonderfully portrayed by Eva Löbau, becomes everywoman or everyman, either reminding us of times we've felt the same as her in a new job, home, or social situation, or giving us pause to be thankful that we're not her.

Bottom line, 3 stars.

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