Film Review: Suzanne Lindon’s Delicate Romantic Drama ‘Spring Blossom’ (Seize printemps)

Bewitching romantic drama Spring Blossom from twenty-year old filmmaker Suzanne Lindon explores an ethically-challenging romance between a sixteen year old girl and thirty-five year old actor. Brimming with a delicate aesthetic finesse and sunny French nostalgia, writer, director and star Lindon has crafted a breezily charming watch.

Disengaged from her friends of similar ages, school girl Suzanne (Lindon) catches the eye of actor Raphaël (Arnaud Valois) who is performing at the town’s theatre. The pair gradually form a connection through regular meetings from trips to cafes to Suzanne joining Raphaël at a party with his cast and crew. Yet this romance will be a fleeting one…

Lindon’s direction is light and elegant, with the film shot in airy natural lighting capturing the bright continental charm of a continental Spring in France. There is a sensual, uncomplicated eye capturing events and a quiet, impressively understated style – which gives Spring Blossom a woozy tone filled with romantic daydreams and teenage longing. As Lindon casts her eye over the gradually building relationship between our protagonists, she allows us to quietly lose ourselves in the natural bond between them. Hints of classic cinema romances (such as The Umbrellas of Cherbourg) are channelled in elegantly choreographed scenes of Raphaël and Suzanne bonding – with Spring Blossom having a charming and delicate musicality and physicality to it showcased in scenes such as the pair sitting and dancing in sync to the theatre play’s overture or the duo romantically losing themselves whilst dancing in the empty theatre.

This depiction of the early stages of a love affair is told through the eyes of our sixteen year old protagonist, refusing to delve too far into the uncomfortable ethics at the heart of a romance between a thirty-five year old and sixteen year old school girl. Lindon’s choice to explore this through the eyes of Suzanne allows her to focus on the feelings of woozy excitement felt in the case of a first love, without delving into the ethical issues. There is a discomfort seen in moments exploring Suzanne’s room with Disney Bambi posters and her noting that her mother wouldn’t let her ride Raphaël’s scooter, nonetheless highlighting the improper undercurrent of the pairing at the heart of the film.

Lindon packs Spring Blossom with plentiful delicate nuances ensuring it is a quiet, yet fulfilling watch. Seeing Suzanne incorporate elements of Raphaël into her life from requesting her mother make her Raphaël’s chosen breakfast of bread and jam, or Raphaël beginning to order Suzanne’s favourite beverage of grenadine and lemonade. These two disenchanted souls – self-excommunicated from their natural peer groups, suddenly finding something to restore the joy de vivre in their respective lives makes for a breezily charming watch.

Lindon showcases tremendous skill as an actress, writer and director in Spring Blossom – which packs an aesthetic elegance and refined finesse in this fleeting but soulful romance.

Spring Blossom is available on Curzon Home Cinema from April 23 and in UK cinemas from May 17.