VOD film review: Spring Blossom
Suzanne Lindon the writer8
Suzanne Lindon the director8
Suzanne Lindon the actor8
Matthew Turner | On 24, Apr 2021
Director: Suzanne Lindon
Cast: Suzanne Lindon, Arnaud Valois, Frédéric Pierrot, Florence Viala
Where to watch Spring Blossom online in the UK: Curzon Home Cinema
21-year-old Suzanne Lindon – the daughter of beloved French actors Vincent Lindon and Sandrine Kiberlain – wrote the script for this romantic, semi-autobiographical French drama when she was just 15. She directed and starred in it five years later, and the film was selected to premiere at the 2020 Cannes Film Festival, before the pandemic put paid to its red carpet possibilities.
Lindon stars as Parisian 16-year-old Suzanne, who has a happy family life with her mother (Florence Viala), father (Frédéric Pierrot) and sister in Montmartre, but is bored to tears with her own peer group at school – when asked to rate all the boys at a party out of 10, she replies that she’d probably give them all a five if she didn’t object to the idea in principle. However, her romantic life takes a turn for the better when she notices handsome 35 year-old actor Raphaël (Arnaud Valois, from Beats Per Minute) outside a theatre on her walk to school every day.
Suzanne tries various little techniques to make Raphaël notice her, from wearing her uniform differently to trying eye shadow for the first time and pointedly sitting in the same cafe every morning, drinking a vibrantly red grenadine and lemonade. Sure enough, her efforts pay off, and soon the pair strike up what might be termed a romantic friendship, where it’s clear that they’re bringing much needed light into each other’s lives.
Although that pesky age gap might set alarm bells ringing for some viewers, Lindon nimbly sidesteps any potentially problematic elements through an inspired piece of directorial invention, whereby a couple of charming dance sequences effectively stand in for moments of more physical intimacy. Accordingly, the highlight of the film occurs at their morning cafe table, where they both arm-dance to a favourite piece of music, performing the same movements together.
That’s not mere naivete on Lindon’s part – a carefully placed poster for Maurice Pialat’s 1983 movie A Nos Amours (about a promiscuous 16 year old also named Suzanne) shows she knows exactly what she’s chosen not to show here. Indeed, the fact that said poster appears next to one for Bambi on her bedroom wall, suggests that Suzanne isn’t quite ready for such a step, being caught in that awkward adolescent spot between childhood and maturity.
To that end, Lindon perfectly captures the heady rush of a first crush, from the thrill of triumph when the man of her dreams actually notices her to a euphoric, celebratory dance down the street after they first agree to meet. The film is astute in other ways too – even the film’s remarkably short running time (a mere 73 minutes) seems to hint at the flash-in-the-pan nature of the central crush.
The performances are crucial to the film’s success – Raphaël could easily have seemed sleazy and manipulative in the wrong hands, but Valois gets the tone exactly right, giving him an easy-going, slightly bored quality that seems genuine and believable. Lindon (who resembles a young Charlotte Gainsbourg in L’Effrontee), for her part, delivers a captivating turn as Suzanne, visibly growing in confidence – blossoming, even – as a result of her oh-so-French romance. Tres, tres charmant.