The Movie Waffler New Release Review [Cinema/Curzon Home Cinema] - SPRING BLOSSOM | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review [Cinema/Curzon Home Cinema] - SPRING BLOSSOM

spring blossom review
A disenchanted 16-year-old falls for an actor.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Suzanne Lindon

Starring: Suzanne Lindon, Arnaud Valois, Rebecca Marder, Frédéric Pierrot, Dominique Besnehard, Florence Viala

spring blossom poster

While America has argued the case against nepotism with Max Landis, Sam Levinson and Max Brooks, France has given us Jean Renoir, Jean Becker, Jacques Tourneur and Charlotte Gainsbourg. You can add Suzanne Lindon, daughter of actors Vincent Lindon and Sandrine Kiberlain, to the Gallic case for keeping it in the family. Her writing, directing and acting debut, Spring Blossom (which she began working on while 15!), is an enviably assured debut from a filmmaker who has only been alive for five World Cup finals.

spring blossom review

Lindon casts herself as her namesake Suzanne, a privileged Parisian 16-year-old who has grown bored of her friends and their shallow interests. At a party, when asked to rate the boys in attendance out of 10, she cuttingly replies, "I'd give them all a five." Suzanne is looking for someone who shares her mature interests of poetry, literature, opera and theatre, and she appears to find it in Raphael (Arnaud Valois), the handsome 35-year-old actor currently appearing on stage in a small theatre near her home. Like Suzanne, Arnaud is finding himself in a crisis of sorts, unsure if he wants to continue with his stage career.

The two lonely souls, struggling to fit in with their respective worlds, bond over breakfasts of bread and strawberry jam washed down with grenadine and lemonade. Few words are exchanged between the pair, and even fewer glances, as though both seem uncomfortably aware of the taboo nature of their relationship. There is no physical consummation of their courtship, rather they engage in interpretive dance sequences, which may or may not be figments of Suzanne's imagination. For quite a while we're left to wonder if indeed Raphael himself has been conjured up by Suzanne, as nobody seems to bat an eyelid at a thirty-something hanging around with a schoolgirl. But then, this is Paris.

spring blossom review

Lindon has certainly picked a provocative subject for her debut, and some viewers may dismiss Spring Blossom as the naïve fantasy of a teenage girl. But Lindon is clearly mature beyond her years, and crucially, more worldly than her onscreen namesake. This isn't a film about a young girl being taken advantage of by an older man so much as it's a drama about two disenchanted people making a connection, ala Kogonada's Columbus. The movie would have worked equally well if the relationship between Suzanne and Raphael were rendered purely platonic, and it could be made to appear so by simply editing out one or two scenes.

While her subject may be inflammatory, Lindon renders it as a sort of poetic mundanity, never seeking to shock us. It's a light-hearted movie, shot with a delicate grace, sketches in a schoolgirl's jotter brought to life. Suzanne enjoys a charming relationship with her parents, who react to her suspicious questions about how to woo a man with the disparity you might expect. Her Dad (Frédéric Pierrot) simply tells her to go to bed when her probing about whether men prefer skirts or pants makes him uncomfortable, while her mother (Florence Viala) chooses to keep quiet and listen, trusting her daughter to make her own mistakes and learn from them.

spring blossom review

Like Call Me by Your Name and The Souvenir, Spring Blossom is a movie that feels like a filmmaker looking back on something they consider a youthful folly, a mistake they learnt from. What's remarkable is that this is coming directly from the horse's mouth as it were, as Lindon acts out on screen an experience she's musing, rather than reflecting on. If only all teenagers should get such an opportunity to make their mistakes in the realm of fiction.

Spring Blossom
 is on Curzon Home Cinema and in UK cinemas now.

2021 movie reviews