Runtime: 73 minutes
Writer/Director: Suzanne Lindon
Actors: Suzanne Lindon, Arnaud Valois
By Caz Armstrong
Suzanne Lindon wrote the script for Spring Blossom (2020) at just 15 years of age. At 19 she directed and starred in it. This French film is a short meditation on a very specific point in many people’s adolescence – an infatuation with an older person.
The character of Suzanne (Writer/Director Suzanne Lindon) is 16 years old, bored by school and feeling like an outsider amongst her peers. She’s not interested in the immature boys her age or in drinking beer at parties. Instead her eye is caught by an actor at the local theatre. He’s 35-year-old Raphaël (Arnaud Valois), handsome, masculine and mature. He’s also suffering from ennui, having a repetitive existence and performing the same role day after day.
They get to know each other and fire up a kind of romance. It’s not sexual, which is a relief, but it is still inappropriate. The age difference makes the whole situation uncomfortable to watch even though the film is clearly not condoning romantic relationships between people of these ages.
Being told from Suzanne’s perspective, we see her obsession spark and then grow. She passes the theatre at deliberately convenient times just to try to get a glimpse of him and even wants to eat the same food as him just to feel a connection. It’s a very accurate depiction of youthful infatuation.
The difficulty comes when Raphaël responds to her interest. He should know better than to even spend time with her, and the line between innocent connection and romance is blurred. The similarities between them are captured in fluid dance motions, suggesting they may be kindred spirits, at least in Suzanne’s fantasies.
At a very brief 73 minutes the film ends rather abruptly so we miss out on the consequences of their connection. We’re left contemplating the moment in time without the benefit (or burden) of examining where it took the characters. Given the age difference between them, a stronger sense of closure would have been a particular benefit.
Lindon directs the film with a grace which focuses on teenage emotions rather than action. The result is contemplative and artistic. We are reminded of youthful love, wishing for a different life, and pushing boundaries. We’re also reined back in and see that boundaries are important, no matter how mature we think we are.