The Movie Waffler New Release Review - <i>SPRING</i> | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - SPRING

An American on the run in Italy strikes up a relationship with an enigmatic young woman hiding a dark secret.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead

Starring: Lou Taylor Pucci, Nadia Hilker, Francesco Carnelutti, Jeremy Gardner

"Spring is a movie you'll fall in love with, one that leaves you with butterflies in your tummy; now adults can experience the effect Twilight has on teenage girls."

As strange as it seems, the two most endearing screen romances have both come from within the realm of the cinefantastique. In 2010, before being snatched by the Hollywood blockbuster machine, Gareth Edwards gave us a winning screen couple in the protagonists of his sci-fi romance Monsters. Now, working in what could loosely be called the horror genre, directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorehead present us with an equally engaging and immersive romance in their sophomore feature, the adult fairytale Spring.
An exploration of the limits of the flesh, the movie's opening image is that of a woman's final moments as she expires from some unnamed illness. Following the woman's funeral, her son Evan (Lou Taylor Pucci) is involved in a bar room brawl. With both the police and his attacker on his case, Evan decides it's time to get out of the US, and randomly picks Italy as his destination ("White folks love Italy," is the advice of his travel agent). In his new surroundings, a small Italian town, Evan attempts to begin a new life, taking a job on a fruit farm run by a sweet but melancholy old man (Francesco Carnelutti) who continues to pine for his late wife.
One afternoon Evan is captivated by the sight of a beautiful young woman, Louise (Nadia Hilker), and that evening, while out drinking with a pair of obnoxious Brit-bros, he spots Louise again and introduces himself, striking out in his attempt to win a date. Not prepared to give up, he tracks Louise down the following day, when she relents and agrees to see him. The two hit it off, but Louise seems to be holding something back. Why does she only agree to meet Evan at night? What's in the syringe she carries around? And why are tourists and animals mysteriously disappearing?
To elaborate any further would be to spoil the movie's twist, but the truth is, Benson and Moorehead's film functions so well as a romantic drama that it could survive as such without its fantastical elements. With a naive young American man and a more cultured European girl wandering the streets of a continental setting, Richard Linklater's Before Sunrise is an obvious touchpoint, but Evan and Louise are a far more engaging, likeable and realistic screen couple. Fluent in multiple languages, stunningly beautiful and knowledgeable far beyond her years, theoretically, Louise could do a lot better than Evan, something he's all too aware of. Like this year's other great romance, The Duke of Burgundy, the film captures the inherent fear of dating above your station, the neurotic horror of awaiting that moment when your partner realises you're far from their intellectual match (Without giving anything away, it transpires there isn't a man on earth who is an intellectual match for Louise, so Evan is worrying over nothing). The scariest moment of the film comes when Louise plays a trick on Evan by pretending she never met him before, this the day after they first sleep together.
Pucci and Hilker are outstanding together. The former has something of a Ryan Gosling about him, but with a comfortable awkwardness that makes him easier to warm to. Hilker is a German actress with a background in TV making both her movie and English language debut, and what a debut! Capturing the ethereal nature of her character, I guarantee by the end of Spring you'll be just as smitten with her as Evan is.
Spring is a movie you'll fall in love with, one that leaves you with butterflies in your tummy; now adults can experience the effect Twilight has on teenage girls.