SPRING BLOSSOM – Review by Diane Carson

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Spring Blossom offers a refreshing, imaginative take on teenage ennui

In Spring Blossom, French writer/director Suzanne Lindon dramatizes the familiar ennui of adolescence in a refreshing, imaginative feature film debut. Moreover, she expertly plays the central sixteen-year-old misfit, also named Suzanne, who becomes enamored of thirty-five-year-old stage actor Raphaël, immersed in his own boredom with repetitive rehearsals and performances, notably as an oak tree.

Remarkably, at fifteen, Lindon decided to write about her feelings and thoughts, noting that she was happy at school but “I felt a certain melancholy” for “this certain age, where you are not totally a child anymore, but not really an adult yet” (quoted in press notes). As dramatized in “Spring Blossom” Lindon achieves her stated purpose to “make an artistic gesture.” She adds that Suzanne “does not really know how to live or behave with people her own age.” Several scenes of Suzanne with high school classmates find her completely disengaged, in the same frame but apart from her friends, bored with their meandering, superficial exchanges.
And so, she gravitates to the unfamiliar and entrancing theater world she walks past daily and slides into a fascination with Raphaël. Soul mates, Raphaël declares to his director that he no longer knows how to act. In effect, they are both at a turning point, a threshold for discovering critical insights into love and life.

Avoiding the typical, confrontational parent-child dynamic, Suzanne gets along well with her loving parents, especially with her father. Equally unconventional and uplifting, Raphaël (a fine Arnaud Valois) is not the older man taking advantage of the naïve teenager. He’s equally lost, searching for connections, meaning, energy. Their relationship is heartening and endearing, completely believable, allowing the chaste love story that unfolds to take and hold center stage against a backdrop of angelic music. The synchronicity between the two is poetically, beautifully expressed in two, one-take pas-de-deux sequences. In one, they sit at a café table and mirror hand and arm movements. In another, they dance balletically, wordlessly, alone on stage. Suzanne Lindon has created an exceptional, insightful film, in French with English subtitles, Spring Blossom is available at KimStim.com.

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Diane Carson

Diane Carson

Diane Carson, Ph.D., Professor Emerita, has reviewed films for over 25 years and has covered the Cannes, Telluride, Toronto, Palm Springs, and Sundance festivals. She writes for KDHX, 88.1 FM. St. Louis’ community radio. One of the founders of the St. Louis International Film Festival, she continues to serve on juries. A past president of the University Film and Video Association, she taught film studies and production at St. Louis Community College and at Webster University. Her new book, written with two colleagues, is “Appetites and Anxieties: Food, Film, and the Politics of Representation,” Wayne State U. Press, 2014.