Plot: A 16-year old girl enters a romantic relationship with an older theatre actor whose play is being performed nearby.
Suzanne Lindon’s SPRING BLOSSOM is an effortlessly charming, deceptively simple film that tackles a sensitive interval in a 16-year old girl’s life. Brilliantly capturing the contradictions, innocence and disorientation that youth go through when trying to truly make sense of the world and discover their emotions.
The film tells the story of Suzanne (writer, director, and star Suzanne Lindon), a 16-year-old Parisian girl who simply can’t get excited about her mundane daily life. She spends her day in repulsive monotony – the camera follows her as she feels out of place among her friends at school and family at home. That’s not to say she’s socially awkward but it’s more of a case of lacking interest in her surroundings. As she struggles with forming a personality for herself, along with being on the verge of womanhood, she is mostly dreamy and detached.
But things change when one day, on the way back from school, she passes a nearby theatre that is showing a local play. There, she meets an older actor (Raphael, played by Arnaud Valois). A romance quickly sparks between the two as Raphael opens up Suzanne’s world, helping her regain interest and find purpose. Together the couple somewhat find a cure to their lackluster routines and their passion for one another and for life is ignited.
What makes SPRING BLOSSOM effective is Lindon’s successful and honest portrayal of what it’s like to be a teenager: the confusion, longing and fear that comes with seeing your body change so fast and being unable to truly define who you are. Lindon captures the small details beautifully, particularly Suzanne’s inability to fit in her daily routine. Emphasizing the idea that one can truly be alone despite being surrounded by family and friends, SPRING BLOSSOM smartly avoids exaggeration and melodrama to create a story that is very believable – and that’s thanks to a fantastic performance by Lindon herself as Suzanne. Quiet, understated and deliberately unexpressive, Lindon captures Suzanne’s inner emotions with sparse dialogue yet richness in detail.
Another highlight is Lindon’s screenplay which avoids clichés and opts for unexpected moves whenever you would expect it to end up being a rehash of similarly told stories. And while the resolution may feel a bit rushed (the runtime is only 73 minutes) and suffers from pacing issues particularly in its second act, it remains thoroughly engaging throughout thanks to Lindon’s ability to make us root and feel for her. And while the film may strike some as uneventful and slight, it does stay true to its focus on the small, intimate details that make it heartfelt and credible.
Verdict: Delightful, charming and unfussy, SPRING BLOSSOM features a standout performance and a sincere screenplay that captures simple yet engaging themes. Likely to be embraced by mainstream audiences if it receives a proper theatrical run, it is a welcome start for Lindon’s exciting career as a performer and storyteller.
This review is from the 45th Toronto International Film Festival.