- Emma Simmonds
- 5 March 2021
GFF 2021: The first film from 20-year-old director-star Suzanne Lindon makes for a beguiling introduction
With so few films made by the under 30s, authentically youthful perspectives are rare. So, what a surprise and delight it is watching the Paris-set Spring Blossom, written and directed by the 20-year-old Suzanne Lindon (the daughter of actors Sandrine Kiberlain and Vincent Lindon), and which stars her too – with Lindon convincingly portraying a 16-year-old, who falls for a much older man.
Returning to elements from her own experience and sharing a name with her character to further blur the lines, Lindon plays schoolgirl Suzanne, who has an apparently charmed family life, complete with loving parents (Florence Viala and Frédéric Pierrot), but who is bored by and detached from her peers. Instead, she's drawn to an older actor she regularly spots outside a Montmartre theatre on her way to and from school, Arnaud Valois's 35-year-old Raphaël, a brooding and husky type, whose creative frustrations have left him with a similar ennui.
With the story told almost exclusively from Suzanne's point of view, this lends a certain innocence to what we see in a film that avoids uncomfortable romantic scenes and feels, perhaps unsurprisingly given that its female director is also its star, totally non exploitative. With a roving, psychologically illuminating style and a breezy naturalistic air, as the title suggests, it's ideal viewing for this time of year. Although the credibility of its young female perspective feels fresh it is, of course, a bit of a throwback to the French New Wave, and the work of François Truffaut and Éric Rohmer in particular – though there's a more playful, Jean-Luc Godard-esque bent to a handful of scenes, which involve choreographed dance moves and Suzanne prancing joyfully down the street.
As an actress, Lindon gives a delicate and quietly charismatic performance, her character has an endearing oddness and there's lovely work from Pierrot as her sweet and baffled dad. Valois, too, gets it about right as the dubious Raphaël; there's every reason to be suspicious of him, but to Suzanne at least they are two kindred spirits, and so that's mostly what we see. Coming in at a mere 73-minutes, Spring Blossom might feel slight and a little unsatisfactory in the abruptness of its conclusion, but it's an extremely accomplished introduction from its young director-star, with Lindon delivering a beguiling take on first love that casually casts off the weight of judgement.