SHE LOVED BLOSSOMS (Tribeca 2024) – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

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With their worlds rocked by the death of their beloved mother, three Greek brothers combine their various skillsets in their overgrown, baroque family home with the hope of bringing her back. As an unfortunate chicken and an unlucky paramore both learn the hard way, an antique art deco wardrobe becomes the unexpected site of a range of experiments intent on turning it into a bespoke, DIY machine with the ability to bring the dead back to life. But their complex interpersonal relationships between each other and their complicate their mission and their ability to deliver on its promise, are rendered even more confusing by an undisguised penchant for mind-altering hallucinogens. With their vision of the world contorted by grief and psychedelics, do they really know what they want, and what they will do if they even succeed?

Delirious and immersive, the world of writer/director Yannis Veslemes’ She Loved Blossoms is trippy and slippery, rendering things like character and plot development almost incidental in contrast to the far grander, hallucinatory vision at its core. While wholly unique, it is in many ways an effect similar to the experience of watching the cinematic collaboration of Bertrand Mandico and Elina Löwensohn, or Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani. While all singular filmmakers, along with Veslemes they share a concrete dedication to building wild imaginary landscapes that are, most fundamentally, to be best experienced sensorially rather than intellectually. These are worlds that swirl and bubble in a frenzied, frenetic and often brazenly incoherent manner, inviting us to reject the supremacy of our intellects and instead demanding that we feel our way through.

In this way, She Loved Blossoms is part of a kind of small but important experimental movement in Eurohorror that will delight those who like having their limits pushed, while simultaneously holding little of interest for those who seek from cinema nothing more than a hollow color-by-numbers experience in visual storytelling. With its recent world premiere at Tribeca, to say that She Loved Blossoms is an acquired taste and won’t be for everyone feels almost laughably obvious. If it’s not for you, don’t sweat it: it seems the bulk of screen culture exists solely to mollycoddle you, protecting you in a largely unmoving force of orthodox filmmaking that guarantees you won’t be uncomfortable. But for those of us who demand something more from our cinematic experiences, She Loved Blossoms is an all-too-rare treasure, a sumptuous beast that both dazzles the eye and joyfully, playfully and willfully befuddles the brain.

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Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Alexandra Heller-Nicholas is a multi-award-winning film critic and author who has published nine books on cult, horror and exploitation cinema with an emphasis on gender politics, including the 2020 book ‘1000 Women in Horror, 1898-2018’ which was included on Esquire Magazine’s list of the best 125 books written about Hollywood. Alexandra is a contributing editor at Film International, a columnist at Fangoria, an Adjunct Professor at Deakin University, and a member of the advisory board of the Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies (LA, NYC, London).