Written by Michael Clawson
“I’m tired of everything. The guys and girls at school. My teachers. My routine. I’m bored.” 16-year-old Suzanne (Suzanne Lindon) hardly needs to voice the fact that she’s finding adolescence dull; it’s more than clear in how disengaged she is with her peers. Sitting with a small group of classmates in a café towards Spring Blossom’s beginning, she silently plays with her drink (a ruby red glass of grenadine and lemonade) as others talk, visibly disinterested in teenage girl gossip about boys. When she goes to a house party, an attempted conversation with one of the two other girls she finds herself sandwiched between on a couch goes nowhere. Luckily, nothing cures boredom faster than finding and swooning over a new crush. The object of Suzanne’s desire is Raphaël (Arnaud Valois), a theater actor nearly twenty years her senior, who catches her eye on a walk home from school and turns out to be similarly melancholic about the tediousness of his current routine. Mixing some clumsy gestures and imbalanced chemistry into otherwise gentle and warm coming-of-age drama, Spring Blossom follows Raphaël and Suzanne as they develop a platonic but intimate relationship.
Suzanne Lindon not only stars in but also wrote and directed Spring Blossom, which marks both her acting and directorial debut. For some, the fact that she was only 19 years old at the time of the film’s making might make its modest impact and missteps at least partially forgivable. On-screen, Lindon has a disarming presence as a quietly excited and curious young girl in the throes of first love. Behind the camera, she brings some fresh details that offset the film’s general familiarity. It’s a relief to see that her character’s mother, father, and sister form a loving and attentive family, with Suzanne feeling comfortable enough with her father that she comes to him with such personal questions as whether men prefer pants or skirts on women. In other words, this isn’t a story about a rebellious teen with issues at home who runs into the arms of an older artist type. In a similar vein, despite Raphaël and Suzanne becoming close, there’s never a sense that Raphaël is taking advantage of Suzanne, or that she’s in over her head. Where Spring Blossom falters is in the incomplete realization of its central relationship. Suzanne’s infatuation with Raphaël rings true, but the chemistry is interesting only in one direction, with Raphaël’s interest in Suzanne feeling more taken for granted than persuasively established. Worse are Lindon’s strained attempts at expressing Raphaël and Suzanne’s synchronicity through surreal scenes where the two of them dance together in unison. Lindon comes closer to creating profound moments when she isn’t trying so hard.
Spring Blossom Trailer
Spring Blossom is currently available to rent or buy on most major VOD Platforms.
Michael Clawson is a member of the Seattle Film Critic Society you can follow his passion for film on Letterboxd.