GFF 2021: Spring Blossom
Spring Blossom, from 20-year-old writer-director-star Suzanne Lindon, tells the story of a teen girl's infatuation with an older man. A young, female perspective on this subject is welcome and timely, but Lindon's film is ultimately unsuccessful
Just a year after the Roman Polanski controversy at the Césars might seem a bad time to release a film centring on a love affair between an adult man and a teenage girl, but Spring Blossom is more subversive than its synopsis might suggest. Less forbidden romance than chaste coming-of-age tale, Spring Blossom was written by director and star Suzanne Lindon when she was just 15, offering a deliberate, if somewhat unsuccessful, female perspective on a very timely issue.
There is a gentle intimacy that characterises Lindon’s direction, the camera mimicking Suzanne’s every mood: moving exuberantly to match her joy; still and languorous when she is bored. Yet this quiet tenderness nevertheless fails to capture the sense of who Suzanne is, her narrative journey – from disinterested to besotted teenager – largely rendered in clichés.
It doesn’t help that the 20-year old Lindon cast herself in the lead role. It is an understandable misstep, given the personal nature of the project as a work of youthful ingenuity, yet the visual discrepancy – between teenage character and adult actor – fails to convey the distinctly adolescent thrust of Suzanne’s tedium and blossoming desires. And, without a sense of the complex authenticity of Suzanne as a character, her fixation with an older man – and, worse, his seeming reciprocation – is simply uncomfortable.
There is real warmth in Lindon’s script and a distinct creativity in her direction: several musical interludes demonstrate a confident, playful engagement with genre. Yet without more thorough character work, Spring Blossom acts as the herald of a blooming new talent, rather than its own centrepiece.
Spring Blossom has its UK premiere at Glasgow Film Festival, screening 7-10 Mar – tickets here