Rengeteg – mindenhol látlak | Forest – I See You Everywhere by Bence Fliegauf | HUN 2020, Competition | © Ákos Nyoszoli, Mátyás Gyuricza

“They Can’t Sleep At Night” — Forest – I See You Everywhere (Berlinale 2021 Film Review)

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In a city such as Budapest — which hosts a wide variety of different cultural backgrounds and people — there’s a certain level of vapidness within the different walks of life. In the case of Benece Fliegauf and his evolving “Forest” saga of films, the aforementioned observant backdrop is the primary framework of his latest feature. At first glance, the seven individual stories featured within Forest – I See You Everywhere are seemingly disconnected. Just like in any grand vein of a metropolitan capital, the busy hustle and bustle rarely correlates nor clashes with a particular recurring incident. Although, what director Bence Fliegauf is specially trying to communicate with his sequel to his 2003 film is the succumbing and normalisation of traumatic disturbance in everyday routine. 

Each of the stories have one specific end goal; to detail a specific thematic-related disturbance that alters the routine and spiritual guidance of each of the newly introduced characters. Segments within Forest – I See You Everywhere feature brutal discussions and actions regarding sex, age, birth, death, guilt, jealousy, mourning, and even religious extremity. Shot with an abundance of hazy visuals featuring uncomfortable closeups, long extended takes of one-on-one conversations, and handheld camera work — Fliegauf is far more interested in the intimate consequences that sprout from these inciting feuds over explosive melodrama. After all, it is a film primarily about a barren cityscape being finally revitalised by the stories of its oppressed occupants.

It’s a bold work of sporadic experimentation — an anthology of shorts with no specific through-line or even recurring motif. The only thing reminiscent of each of the stories is an argumentative or provoked conversation that leads its characters towards either a positive or downward spiral. There comes a point in Forest- I See You Everywhere however, where the viewer may question the effectiveness of some of the lesser segments. Two particularly come to mind; the second and fourth episodic narratives that suffer from the same flaw. Both segments are equally vague in its inciting conflicts and even intended resolutions. Not to mention that the depicted struggles in both chapters merely detract from the empathetic and emotionally gripping nuance of the other stories. 

Perhaps it’s due to a lack of focus or an abundance of preconceived cliches that detract from the impact in these select segments. Or maybe it’s particularly due to Fliegauf’s immaculate direction with the more parental-themed stories. The man has a surprising amount of talent for creating intricate teen and child-driven stories that deal with a clearcut moral dilemma from the get-go. Even when Forest – I See You Everywhere doesn’t focus on these select segments, the unique divide in structure and conflict in all of the chapters creates a euphoric concerto of cathartic characters and conflict. Fliegauf’s latest feature is a film best experienced with a passive gaze and an open interpretation of the depicted events.

Rengeteg – mindenhol látlak | Forest – I See You Everywhere by Bence Fliegauf | HUN 2020, Competition | © Ákos Nyoszoli, Mátyás Gyuricza
Rengeteg – mindenhol látlak | Forest – I See You Everywhere by Bence Fliegauf | HUN 2020, Competition | © Ákos Nyoszoli, Mátyás Gyuricza

Forest – I See You Everywhere premiered in competition at this year’s 71st Berlinale and won the Silver Bear for Best Supporting Performance. The film is currently seeking international distribution.

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David Cuevas

David Cuevas is a writer, reporter, and the official festivals editor (US/Canada) for FilmHounds Magazine. In his spare time, you can find him watching a bunch of movies while contemplating on his own existence.

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