“Spring Blossom” – Blooming [MOVIE REVIEW]
A surprising new talent has suddenly appeared. Like Venus emerging from the sea, Suzanne Lindon, age 20, has jumped to the front of the line with her first film, “Spring Blossom” which she wrote, directed, and starred in. It’s not that the film is flawless or will enter the canon of storytelling but this very young woman has taken the “coming of age” trope and found a new, and interesting angle.
Suzanne is bored; bored with school, friends, and her surroundings. Then one day as she passes a theater on the way to school a young man catches her eye. She starts looking for him whenever she passes by. She notes details about him—his dress, his motor bike, what he eats in the café. Her head is turned and she sets out to capture him. She is 16 and he, an actor at the theater she passes, is more than twice her age. It is a slow dance and she’s not in a hurry. And then he notices her.
An actor, Raphael is as bored with his situation as she is with hers. The spark has gone out of his acting. Every day, the same thing with the same people. The sameness is exhausting. And then there’s this girl. Pretty, bright, young. He doesn’t pursue, he doesn’t need to.
Suzanne isn’t abused; she has a very loving family. She doesn’t lack for friends; their interests are just not hers. Suzanne is not a thrill seeker; she’s not rebelling. She’s looking for the intellectual and emotional stimulation that she feels she’s missing. She targets Raphael; he is her prey. She envelopes him with her sweet and quiet devotion. Their love seems chaste but deep.
Suzanne makes her interest in Raphael obvious. She sees an intellectual depth in him that may or may not be there. He too is looking for something and succumbs to her obsession. The trigger here is that they both are ascribing things to their burgeoning relationship that may or may not be there. From an emotional maturity standpoint, they might be equals.
Lindon, an obvious romantic, plays with unexpressed passion by putting it to music and motion. There is a scene at a café between the two of them when he introduces her to his favorite opera and suddenly the camera closes in on the two of them as they perform a ballet while seated together, a choreography of arm movements in time to the opera. It works perfectly in the moment.
Lindon has talent beyond her years and a creativity that allowed her to see beyond the older man-younger woman trope. Suzanne becomes more self-assured as he becomes less so. She is searching for herself in the unknown. She may or may not have found it in Raphael but then she doesn’t know what to do with it because her maturity has not caught up with her heart.
It’s a slim story but it’s told effectively. The cast is wonderful, leading off with Lindon as Suzanne. She hasn’t completely leaped out from the unknown. Her parents are both César-winning actors; mother is Sandrine Kiberlain and father is Vincent Lindon. As an actress her eyes convey a soulfulness and yearning; her body exhales the awkwardness of youth.
Arnaud Valois as Raphael effectively displays an initial youthful demeanor that ages before our eyes as he becomes more entangled with Suzanne. Frédéric Pierrot as Suzanne’s father and Florence Viala as her mother, are warm, understanding, and perplexed by the changes they see. But their empathy and love come through and Lindon has the remarkable good sense to avoid the typical “my parents don’t understand me” clichés.
While the subtitles are generally good, there is one particular omission that is significant. The lyrics to a song that Suzanne and Raphael are dancing to were not translated. The clue to its importance to the story are the tears streaming down Suzanne’s face. Looking up the song, “La Dolce Vita” by Christophe and Jean Michel Jarre, the text is pertinent to their love story. It’s as though Raphael is singing to her. Roughly translated and edited they say: “Every night, riding on my Vespa…it was la dolce vita. I was looking for adventure until the early morning hours…and then I found you and everything changed. The trap was easy. You fell into my arms and we went all over town. It was la dolce vita.” Her face reveals that the trap was hers.
In French with English subtitles.
Opening May 21 at the Laemmle Royal and Laemmle Virtual Cinema.
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