First love hurts. Especially when it consumes and overtakes your day dreams, just like Suzanne’s in ‘Spring Blossom‘. First time writer, director and actress Suzanne Lindon directs herself in her feature debut, in which she plays a 16-year-old school girl who’s bored with people of her age. Obsessed with a man, they find the answers they were looking for in each other and fall in love. But Suzanne is unsure if this is really what she wants and starts to worry about blossoming too soon and eventually missing out on her teenage years.

This story could be taking place at any given time in the late 20th- or early 21st century, in the romantic center of France, Paris. Suzanne (Lindon), a rather quiet yet easily delighted teenager, spends most of her days living through the same routine with her picture perfect family. When she’s not at home reading or dancing with her mother, she’s at school or hanging out with her peers. You can easily tell she’s not as excited about partying or drinking, like her friends, and stays far away from boys of her own age, unlike the other girls in her class. When she walks home one evening, after being peer-pressured into going to a party, she sees a man sitting outside a café. He looks bored, which catches Suzanne’s eye. Not able to stop thinking about the man, she goes back to the café and notices that same man standing outside a theatre at the same corner. After finding the courage to finally speak to him, she and Raphaël (Valois) become completely obsessed with each other, to the point of no longer being able to function properly.

Lindon has a way of making the constant desire between two loved ones bearable to watch. These two hopeless romantics don’t care about their age difference, even though it’s rather immoral to get mixed up with a 16-year-old girl. That’s where Lindon delicately handles their romance, without reaching for unnecessary dissolute situations. The kisses they share are on the neck, there’s more of a dreamlike sense of intimacy when both bond over Raphaël’s career as an actor and their mutual love for music, which instigates surreal contemporary dance sequences, leaning towards something you’d most likely would see in a musical. These scenes are charming and showcases Lindon’s strengths, where most of the film is rather sensibly revealing.

Suzanne Lindon stars as her own protagonist, and does a decent job, even though it’s quite clear directing is what she excels in. Co-star Arnaud Valois (‘My Best Part‘) is a perfect on-screen partner, giving exactly the right amount of allure and agony that’s necessary for the part. Suzanne’s attraction to the theatre is rather interesting, since this is where Raphaël spends most of his boring days. The routine makes place for excitement, when Suzanne breaks that one-beat rhythm and sparks the fire both were missing in life. The supporting cast is fine, but this isn’t about them and they’re just there to fill the void when both love birds can’t spend time together. Suzanne and Arnaud’s performances emphasize the power of a look or touch, and the ways yearning can be communicated through specific actions instead of words.

Spring Blossom is a tenderly elegant first feature, that breathes life into the routines of daily life. An obsessive love story that knows when to call it quits.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

TIFF20 Review – ‘Spring Blossom’

Reviewed online (as part of Toronto International Film Festival), September 17, 2020. Rating: R. Running time: 73 min.

PRODUCTION: An Avenue B Productions production. Producer: Caroline Bonmarchand.

CREW: Director/screenplay: Suzanne Lindon. Editor: Pascal Chavance. Cinematography: Jérémie Attard. Music: Vincent Delerm.

CAST: Suzanne Lindon, Arnaud Valois, Florence Viala, Frédéric Pierrot, Rebecca Marder.

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