The Forest for the Trees
The Forest for the Trees details several months in the life of a schoolteacher in Germany who leaves a small town to attempt teaching in a more suburban atmosphere. She arrives in her new life with great hopes for friendships, romance, and touching the lives of children in the high school. We soon learn, however, that Melanie Pröschle will not transition into the new setting easily.
Melanie first has difficulty fitting in with her new co-workers, who are predominantly older. The administration seems to be run by the males in the school, who view Melanie as naïve and inexperienced, and do not go to lengths to hide their opinions. Melanie intends to be “a breath of fresh air” to the school, however, is immediately met with the impression that no one believes in her ability to succeed at teaching her assigned class: a group of disrespectful teenagers.
Our protagonist then attempts to make friends in her new neighborhood, even sitting down with strangers and trying to start conversation, but finds herself among a sea of already-formed groups and relationships. She’s fortunate enough to find a friend in a woman living along the same street, but struggles with social skills in intimate and public settings.
This film does an amazing job at depicting awkwardness, isolation, despair, and the feelings one gets when they feel that their options have been depleted. The viewer is left with an empathetic grasp of the feelings that Melanie experienced, along with a strong anger towards her for making mistakes and not being stronger. This film led me to desire to be a stronger woman overall and to develop stronger interpersonal relationships with other women.