Stefan stands on the cement pavement of a tall building under construction, beholding the city with all the hustles and bustles commencing towards the gravity of reaching destinations. A million other projects have been fabricated through the city’s expansion beyond the concrete resonances and Stefan’s vision, examining the uprising monuments. What if Stefan decelerates the time bestowed to him and brooks a dip of spectacle out of his working cap? One thing is for sure: Director Bas Devos in “Here (2023)” desires nature to be part of the cast list here.
Even during the film’s opening, filled with sentient images of city settings, the echoes and atmosphere of nature arise like a ribbon out of the present box to lure us in as advocates to capture the resonance of the environment. There is almost a contemplation of positive wrath that surrounds the whooshes of the wind and the lusciousness of the trees that have sprouted without the provision of humans, remote yet tranquil. The sound design by Boris Debackere undoubtedly marked the bullseye of this piece.
The portrayal of Stefan lies in his modest escapades of not grasping his concurrent activities, pointing the clock arrow towards impromptu undertakings – undertakings in terms of eradicating any outlines of hooked plans or objectives while shaving the thorns of twigging the rationale of his subsistence. The film shakes the composition of absurdism shallowly, prompting the scenes in the 2021 film “The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be Quiet” by Ana Katz. The essence of all verdicts plays the joker card on the vagueness of his current state of decision-making, involving his employment right till the acknowledgment of displeasure towards upholding a routine régime. Cedric, Stefan’s friend who meets him for a conversation, calls him “The Insomniac,” which also goes into his scrupulous ways of handling his ‘Waking up” schemes.
Here, which won the Best Film and FIPRESCI Award under the Encounters category at the 2023 Berlinale, affixes enthralling statements within the slants and idea trajectories of acquaintances and human values. Stefan encounters many individuals vacillating from family to friends, each with something insightful to state. “There is so much I’d love to do, but I’ll never be able to do” and “But I won’t get to see the sun much, only artificial light” are memorandums that express compassion and remorse for a decision that has affected these people to the point where it still lurks in the back of their minds, especially during comforting gatherings.
Unlike a small slice of transformation that usually thumps whenever it is necessary to offer nutrition to the soul, Stefan expresses the drastic change he wants to intrude upon to the audience. Yet, he hasn’t really located the exact route to drive himself till the end of the race. A major hovel has formed a tunnel in Stefan through his muddiness, which itself lights the bulb of depression on a smaller scale.
There is a scene where Stefan informs Cedric of a childhood friend named Marian, who is in prison for a crime that was not disclosed. He was urged by the mother to visit her son in prison, which brought the conversation to reminisce his childhood memories of being in the summerhouse and catching fireflies with Marian. A flash of swift liberation is stroked right at that moment through Stefan’s subtle hush, reflecting one of the pin marks missing in his system to fuel him firmly.
The torchlight moves to another persona in the film who spins another wheel of miracles within her own territory. Shuxiu is caught between gluing herself perpetually to her effervescence of research, which she is sincerely devoted to. An abstract, poem-like brainwave mounts her when she explains her ambiguity of knowing certain words, which doesn’t pop up when she notices a few objects around her.
Panic baits in her, but it dwindles after she attaches herself to be part of them, forming an avenue that primes to an inaudible version of identity syndrome. A bryologist venturing her doctorate research on mosses, Shuxiu is almost as curious as Stefan in her conduit of being empathetic to her surroundings, even when she observes a food delivery man sprinting conscientiously to the restaurant she usually eats at. At this point, a surprising phenomenon shall be shuffling the affection tone.
The screenplay in 4:3 format annexes the point of discovery between two individuals of different personalities and backgrounds. Director Bas Devos plates up the coatings of conjunctive representations through diversity between them through their manner of discussion and tenderness, almost similar to Kogonada’s 2017 film Columbus. The shrill edges of their mislaid pieces get refined by the presence of each other towards their bonding, where one brings purity to the steady line of life, and the other brings cognizance to the disordered mark of life.
As enzymes attach to the catalyst, which functions for different purposes, Stefan and Shuxiu add marshmallows to their hot chocolate without the requirement to coerce themselves. A section where Shuxiu and Stefan meet abruptly in a forest, which fronts to a sustained yet bolstering discussion on moss and the species variations, up to a point where Stefan chooses not to leave to examine his car in the garage, gives optimism about humanity in the contemporary epoch where conflict and violence have gotten head-to-head for the acquisition of supremacy.
Here unlocks the capsule of personality representations toward the existence of objects and beings, as how Shuxiu and Stefan are associated with mosses and soups, respectively. It is a masterful courtesy to flourish the contributions left on earth, which are tacit and unraveled, more like a micro-forest dimension. The film pushes the audience from the cliffs of being lost to shake the sense that life has more to offer than currencies, physical attributes, and savings in the bank. It’s a paragon of findings that are right along our reality, almost clasping the valley of fate conquering our own resolutions.
The valid inquiry is: What could a whole field of earth do if a moss and a soup could amalgamate two individuals to the point of relishing each other’s soul? The answer lies right inside every one of us.