Forest for the Trees (2003, Maren Ade)

Not all mumblecore comedies of young-adult awkwardness come from the States, apparently. This one is from German filmmaker Ade, one of Cinema Scope’s 50 Under 50.

Melanie moves to a new town where she knows nobody, starting work as a teacher, breaking up with her boyfriend (who helps her move). She is enthusiastic to the point of desperation – gives all her neighbors gifts to introduce herself. She dodges a fellow teacher who wants to hang out with her, manages to make friends with a woman named Tina across the courtyard instead. But Tina has friends, throws parties, is in a relationship, deals with personal problems, and doesn’t want to hang out with Melanie 100% of the time – so Melanie becomes more and more desperate and stalkerish.

Adult life isn’t going too well. She even goes to a petting zoo and gets pushed around by little horses. Nothing intensely interesting happens until the final scene, where Melanie goes for a drive alone listening to Grandaddy and decides to crawl into the backseat and stare out the side window while the car is still going.

Pretty good little indie movie – I don’t get all the excitement, but I’ll take Cinema Scope’s word for it and watch her next movie. She’s also recently worked on Ulrich Kohler and Miguel Gomes movies I wanted to see. M. Peranson in Cinema Scope says this was her “DV student-film debut” and mentions that Melanie’s accent is a source of humor for native Germans.