Vanessa’s review published on Letterboxd:
I have now seen all of Maren Ade's feature films and I think Der Wald vor lauter Bäumen is my favourite, although it's almost impossible to choose one because every single one of her movies great in its own way.
Maren Ade's movies are all pretty hard to watch because they are so real in the way the characters act and the dialogues that sometimes seem like she just filmed random people without their knowledge. There were so many scenes where I wanted to look away or pause the movie because they were so painfully awkward. During most of Melanie and Tina's conversations I wanted to yell at Melanie and ask her if she really doesn't realise what's going on or if she just refuses to believe it. I think this unawareness is also the only reason why Melanie's stalking was almost okay, because she didn't even realise what she was doing and how creepy it was that she was constantly observing and following her friend.
I also liked that the movie neither condemned nor approved Melanie's actions but just let her do her thing until the very end. The ending itself was probably inevitable - or at least I expected it to happen - and for me the most beautiful and memorable scene of the entire movie and it made me feel a certain emptiness long after the credits rolled.
Even though the look of the movie bothered me at the beginning I got used to it pretty quickly and it contributed to the realness of the movie - as if somebody had just filmed everyday situations with a camera. Overall it's a pretty remarkable debut feature because Ade's distinctive awkwardness is already so pronounced and you can see how it influenced her later work. I honestly think that at the moment there aren't many writers/directors who are better at character studies than Maren Ade and I can't wait for her next movies.