Spring Blossom Review TIFF 2020

The Plot

A 16 year old girl bored with her school routine and people her own age discovers a fierce infatuation with an older actor performing at a local theatre. That inquisitive interest soon grows into an actual relationship, giving her the more daunting and authentically adult experiences she craves. Ultimately forcing her to confront whether or not she is truly ready to leave her childhood behind.

The Good

Suzanne Lindon directs and stars in a coming of age drama she apparently scripted when she was only 15 years old. This alone immediately distinguishes the film from countless other films that deal with the fledgling love affairs of teenage girls aching to discovering something beyond the narrow confines of high school and more childish pursuits.

It’s typical for these kinds of genre films to paint their female protagonists either as innocent victims of manipulative adult desire, or alternatively as rampantly sexually teenage temptresses. It’s at least refreshing that Spring Blossom avoids these stereotypes, presenting its young heroine as a relatively normal girl on the cusp of womanhood. It’s arguably a more authentic if mundane depiction of the excitement generated by someone’s first forays into the daunting world of adult emotions.

Though the film lacks tear stained melodrama it does deliver repeatedly joyful and sweet natured musical moments. It’s enduring watching Suzanne dance down the street in celebration at learning that her affections are in fact reciprocated. Indeed as her relationship with the 35 year old actor she befriends moves forward it is played out mostly through similarly shared moments of dancing to elegant melodies. It provides the majority of the film’s romantic spirit in contrast to their mostly awkward and banal conversational exchanges.

The Bad

First love and the tensions caused by a typical adolescent impatience to grow up are both often the subject matter of sensuous and richly emotional filmmaking. Unfortunately this film is at times lacking in the authentic drama and depth that distinguishes the better versions of this overly familiar coming of age tale. Lindon’s script is a little too languid and uneventful to capture the painful lessons that first loves usually end up teaching us.

Devoid of furious family drama, passionate sexual exploration or cruel life lessons the film doesn’t feel all that visceral or important. This particular age gap romance is mostly populated by banal breakfast conversation and random dance sequences. It’s a light and mostly pretty portrait of a fairly restrained love affair, but also entirely unremarkable.

Writer, director and star Suzanne Lindon penne the script when she was just 15, lending it a certain authenticity at least. But while sharing coffee and polite conversation with an adult can be an electrifying experience for an actual teenager, that doesn’t translate to screen for a more mature audience. Viewed from an adult perspective and without any particularly vivid insights, it appears more trivial than tantalising.

The fact that the film can barely sustain a running time a little beyond an hour perhaps gives some indication of how little the film ultimately has to say.

The Ugly Truth

Spring Blossom is an easy watch and a serves as a pleasant stroll through familiar coming of age tropes. Frequent musical interludes give a little extra elegance to a very simple tale otherwise mostly lacking in drama. The film is light and pretty as intended, but also unremarkable.

Review by Russell Nelson

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