‘Here’ Review: A Celebration of Connection

One-word titles like that of the Belgian writer and director Bas Devos’s “Here” can create a minuet of meaning. In this hushed drama that gently rebuffs the beats of a love story even as it hints at one, the word is a call for the viewer’s attention and an acknowledgment of place.

“This is my home,” Stefan (Stefan Gota), a Romanian construction worker, says to himself, looking out over the city from his apartment in the Jette commune, northwest of Brussels.

Sitting in front of his refrigerator, Stefan pulls out vegetables and sniffs containers. He makes a soup that he’ll deliver to friends before he leaves on vacation. But he also alludes to leaving the city for a longer spell. Did we mention he’s struggling with an insomnia that keeps him walking the streets in the still hours, paying heed to things that might be lost in the daylight’s bustle?

Across the city, a graduate student named Shuxiu (Liyo Gong) describes a state of being at a loss for words before being fully awake, as images of the natural world unfold. Stefan is observant because he’s sleepless, and Shuxiu, a bryologist who studies moss, is attentive by calling.

When Stefan first encounters Shuxiu, he is sitting, soaked, in a Chinese restaurant. When they meet again in a wooded area, it is coincidental and freighted with possibility. What will become of them isn’t the purview of the film, or its point, exactly. And, yet, in this painstakingly muted, luminously photographed testimony to connection, nothing much and everything happens — or could.

Not rated. In Dutch, French, Romanian and Mandarin, with subtitles. Running time: 1 hour 22 minutes. In theaters.

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