SPRING BLOSSOM (TIFF20) – Review by Pam Grady

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Remember the name Suzanne Lindon. If her debut feature, Spring Blossom, is anything to go by, the precocious 20-year-old has a brilliant future ahead of her. Making its North American premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, this smart, evocative coming-of-age drama reveals Lindon in her best light as a writer, director, and actor.

Written when she was just 15, Lindon stars as Suzanne, a bright and comfortably middle-class teenager suffering the ennui of the adolescent. What relieves her boredom is catching sight of an actor at the theater she passes every day on her way to and from school. At 35, Raphael (Arnaud Valois, BPM) is gorgeous, but more than twice Suzanne’s age. Like her, he is at loose ends, and listless about his current role. As Suzanne gently stalks him, he takes notice and responds in kind, even adopting her regular drink at the café they both frequent, grenadine and lemonade.

All of this Lindon handles with delicacy and tact. The relationship may be inappropriate but is never leeringly so. Kisses are chaste and the characters express their mutual attraction through synchronized movement: mirroring each other’s gestures at the café and in a lovely sequence on stage. Most importantly, Suzanne is no older man’s plaything, but a self-aware young woman with agency. Spring Blossom is no dangerous liaison situation. Instead, it depicts Suzanne’s first experience of adult emotions, tempered by her acknowledgement of her own limits. As a film, it is a triumph for its maker.

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Pam Grady

Pam Grady is a freelance journalist and film critic whose work has appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, Box Office, FilmStew, SF State Magazine and other publications. Her career began at Reel.com where she was an editor and staff critic. She is currently President of the San Francisco Bay Area Film Critics Circle.