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▶ Spring Blossom is available on Curzon Home Cinema from 23 April.
A portrait of romance and fantasy, boredom and adolescence, Suzanne Lindon’s understated and elegant debut navigates the unique thrills of first love. At 16 years old, the psyche of young Parisian Suzanne (also played by Lindon) is little occupied outside of school and home. She has two posters on display in her bedroom – one of Bambi (1942), the other of À Nos Amours (1983) – fitting décor for a precocious and long-limbed adolescent looking for excitement elsewhere. Suzanne’s gaze is distant and disconnected around her fellow students, the claustrophobic camerawork making clear that her mind is withdrawn. When she catches sight of a handsome man, Raphaël (Arnaud Valois), nearly 20 years her senior outside a local Montmartre theatre, she finds that her obsession with and adoration of him fills the gap in her distracted mind.
The film comes two decades after a triumphant period of contemporary French cinema by female filmmakers which focused on overt sensuality, corporeality and transgression – the likes of À ma soeur (2000); Baise-moi (2000), Romance (1998); Vendredi soir (2002).
The strength of Spring Blossom lies in exploring Suzanne’s burgeoning interest in lust and sensuality without much in the way of physicality. There’s an exemplary moment early on in the film, in which Suzanne encounters Raphaël at their local cafè. As they part ways after ordering a pair of bright magenta-coloured grenadine lemonades, she impulsively and self-consciously grabs his drink to taste his straw – and presumably we imagine, to taste him too. Lindon’s attention to detail is observant, meticulous and extraordinarily intimate.
The progression of Suzanne and Raphaël’s relationship is embellished by wistful sequences of choreographed dance to Antonio Vivaldi’s Stabat Mater – a slow, melancholic Baroque composition that lends an air of timeless, reserved elegance. It also bestows a degree of chastity on their relationship despite the carnality of Suzanne’s imagination.
As writer-director-actor Lindon crafts a portrait of youth that shows her protagonist to be stultified and beleaguered but never weak. Suzanne’s strength, agency and power are always apparent in her actions, and she is depicted as fully the equal of Raphaël. Directed at 19 and written at just 15 years of age, Suzanne Lindon’s Spring Blossom is a unique and insightful treatise on adolescent female desire expressed with imagination, subtlety and a sensuous romantic innocence.
“I’ve never lived without cinema”: Suzanne Lindon on making a film as a teenager
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Sight & Sound June 2021
In our current issue, Mark Kermode and Prano Bailey–Bond talk Censor and the 80s British censorship massacre. Read if you dare! Plus the history of ‘video nasties’, Kelly Reichardt on First Cow, Suzanne Lindon’s Spring Blossom, the sprawling brilliance of Robert Altman’s Nashville, and vintage Jack Nicholson. Available in print and digitally.Find out more and get a copy