Credit: TIFF
by Calum Reed Featured Film Horizon Line

Spring Blossom | Suzanne Lindon

May 18, 2021

Spring Blossom feels under-realized on the whole, but at least introduces a distinct authorial voice worth following.

Part of the official selection at this year’s Cannes Film Festival that never was, Spring Blossom sees Suzanne Lindon, daughter of renowned French actors Vincent Lindon and Sandrine Kiberlain, direct and star in a debut feature about first love. The story revolves around Suzanne (Suzanne Lindon), a sixteen-year-old who longs for more stimulating interaction than she gets from her hedonistic peers, and duly grasps her opportunity when she encounters an older actor named Raphael (Arnaud Valois), whose play has arrived at the local theatre. Although the central relationship here might remind one of Call Me By Your Name, and is in many ways as bourgeois as that film, there’s little that feels passionate or vital about this particular adolescent experience; Suzanne’s infatuation is confined to longing gazes, displays of naivety, and other overfamiliar markers of awkward innocence. Lindon herself is a fresh, unconventional on-screen presence, yet the romance of sorts between the mutually bored couple lacks any dynamism; their exchanges of dialogue are largely mundane and unrevealing.

As a portrait of Suzanne’s burgeoning sexuality, Spring Blossom is hardly subtle, but Lindon’s canny direction is frequently distinctive, replete with idiosyncratic flourishes, such as when Suzanne and Raphael inexplicably burst into a synchronized dance routine while seated at a cafe. While her use of music to instill mood is at times impulsive, Lindon’s choices are eclectic and appropriate enough, avoiding the distracting, jukebox-style pop songs often favored by filmmakers in the early stages of their career (or most of it, in the case of Xavier Dolan). There’s an appealing use of a French version of Frankie Valli’s “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” here, while the titular composition “Spring Blossom” (an original work by Vincent Delerm) makes for a rather lovely motif throughout. And despite France’s low age of consent, the principal characters’ understanding of boundaries helps prevent the romance from ever veering too far into creepy territory, which is welcome. It’s a shame that Spring Blossom does feel under-realized on the whole, but as Lindon’s first cinematic offering, it at least enamors viewers with her distinct authorial voice and should leave them curious to discover where this fledgling filmmaker’s career is heading.

Originally published as part of TIFF 2020 — Dispatch 4.
Published as part of Rendez-Vous with French Cinema 2021 — Dispatch 1.