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Here (II) — Young Critics Workshop

Here (Bas Devos, 2023)


For a film that is suspicious of language, attempting to write about it feels like a betrayal. Where words impose a friction between perception and encounter, Here‘s minimal dialogue enhances our senses and slowly guides us to surrender to what one of its characters refer to as the “nameless world”. If to name is to objectify, to obscure, to obliterate, how do we resist this impulse towards taxonomy? How do we unshackle ourselves from the finitude of language?

Patiently instructing us through this silent meditation is Shuxiu, a Chinese bryologist who collects and catalogues moss in Brussels. Her meticulous inventory is interrupted by a surreal voiceover, “I couldn’t remember the names of the things around me. I knew what it was, but the words wouldn’t come to me. The whole room felt like it was part of me”. Relinquishing her compulsion to classify, this unmoored reconfiguration of the world is catalyzed by her connection with a Romanian construction worker. As he waits for the rain outside her aunt’s restaurant to abate, they strike up a conversation that ends prematurely.

It is only when meandering through a forest the two serendipitously reunite. Shuxiu suddenly emerges from the landscape, wearing a moss-colored jacket that blends into her surroundings. Together they inspect the land’s abundant vegetation with unmixed attention, becoming interwoven into the hushed greenery. After their shared expedition, he prepares a homemade soup for her. When her aunt teasingly asks, “What’s his name?”, the credits abruptly roll before she is able to answer. Some feelings elude and exceed articulation. Here generously brims with such gestures towards the ineffable.