Spring Blossom (Seize Printemps) – Review

Spring Blossom (Seize Printemps)There has been an abundance of movies about young girls and their entanglements with older men. Usually, they are on-screen relationships that leave you feeling uncomfortable; a voyeur of something you know is wrong and – ultimately – are powerless to stop.

There is none of that seediness here is writer / director / actor Suzanne Lindon’s debut, Spring Blossom. It has none of the hyper-sexualised displays of teenage girls and sleazy older men (which is probably just as well, at a time when French cinema giants such as Besson and Depardieu are accused of various assaults).

Instead, Lindon frames this quiet, subtle debut as more about the experience of a first crush, without necessarily casting judgment on either side.

Lindon stars as Suzanne, a shy, quiet and studious young woman who doesn’t share her classmates’ fondness for house parties, drinking beer and talking about boys. She fades into the background of her friend group; never offering up her opinion and never straying too far from her white shirt, jeans and a scrunchie.

She’s a young woman struggling to find her place in the world and in her own skin.

Her everyday life is disrupted by a sudden infatuation with Raphael (Arnaud Valois), a theatre actor she begins to notice on her way to and from school. He is older and – to her – more sophisticated and bolder. It’s from here that she takes tentative steps to act upon her crush.

There’s so much symmetry and mirroring going on throughout the film. Suzanne notices Raphael eating bread and jam and so she chooses to; Raphael sees she drinks grenadine and lemonade and so he begins to do the same.

But perhaps the most obvious – and rather beautiful – example of this is when they listen to opera music together. Lost in the music, they spontaneously burst into a balletic routine. It’s gentle and subtle.

Spring Blossom (Seize Printemps)Dance features in the film several times, each time signifying a milestone for Suzanne. She begins the film walking home with her head down, shuffling along, not noticing the world around her. By the time she has her first conversation with Raphael, the physical transformation is evident. She sashays along the street, performing a routine. Her head is held high and the smile cannot be wiped from her face.

Later on in the film, both Raphael and Suzanne engage in a routine that is laden with innuendo and subtext. But – surprisingly – it doesn’t feel creepy or sinister. Instead, it’s fueled by sheer emotion. Throughout the film, the encounters between the pair are relatively chaste and innocent.

There isn’t too much dialogue in the film. After all, the pair don’t really have too much in common or anything concrete to talk about. Suzanne largely feels the same way about her friends and family, merely flitting in and out of her home with a few sentences each time.

Anyone watching Spring Blossom will no doubt have reminders stirred up of their own first crush. How you fretted over what to wear; what to say; how to sound interesting. Suzanne’s first attempt at applying mascara will also take many people back to the panda eyes they acquired thanks to Maybelline Great Lash. Lindon wrote this film at 15 – and those experiences that she must have been having at the time feel so real and raw.

Not much actually happens in the film and, at just a 72 minute run time, it does feel like it ends before it has begun. What happens to both Suzanne and Raphael? Does anything change for either of them? And, for that reason, this film might not be for everyone (obviously, the subject matter is another reason).

However, Spring Blossom shows a lot of promise from writer / director Suzanne Lindon. It would be interesting to see what she takes on next and how she chooses to express it.

Spring Blossom is still available to screen at the Glasgow Film Festival until March 10. Click here to get your tickets.

Mary Munoz
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