Seize printemps [Spring Blossom] (2020)

Seize printemps
Director: Suzanne Lindon
Writer: Suzanne Lindon
Cast: Suzanne Lindon, Arnaud Valois, Frédéric Pierrot, Florence Viala, Rebecca Marder, Arthur Giusi, Pauline Rugo, Dominique Besnehard, Philippe Uchan
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 28.10.2020

Plot:
Suzanne (Suzanne Lindon) is 16 years old and in school. But she feels at odds with the other kids her age. Instead she feels drawn to actor Raphaël (Arnaud Valois) who works in the local theater. After observing him for a while, she gathers up her courage to approach him. Raphaël is rather charmed by Suzanne and they keep meeting. But their age difference gives them both pause.

There have been many movies about underage girls falling for older men and/or vice versa (more of the latter, if we’re being honest) but none have done it quite like Seize printemps: leaving the ball entirely in the girls’ court. It was amazing to watch this film unfold and I know it’s one of my favorites of the Viennale already, and one of my favorites of the year for sure.

The film poster showing Suzanne (Suzanne Lindon) standing in a group of girls her age, looking distant.

Usually, when we get films about older men and younger girls, what we get is predatory men and girls who can handle that predatory behavior sometimes better, sometimes worse. In the case of Seize printemps, that dynamic is changed completely and I think that’s what I loved most about it. Suzanne falling for Raphaël – that is her fantasy at work, her taking love for a test drive basically, her determining her own tastes and exploring her own sexual power. Raphaël is caught in the crosshairs of her coming of age and when he falls for her, pretty much despite himself, he is the one who is hurt while Suzanne experiments with heartbreak.

Not that Suzanne is being cruel, or at least not consciously so. She is in love with him in a way, but they are both aware that with him being twice her age, there is no way that anything can happen. It is Suzanne, though, who can take this fact with more realism and therefore lightness, while Raphaël is infected by her straightforward naivité (and never crosses the line to predator).That makes Raphaël safe for Suzanne to fall in love with, and Suzanne so dangerous for Raphaël. And it’s what keeps Suzanne firmly in charge at all times.

Suzanne (Suzanne Lindon) and Raphaël (Arnaud Valois) sitting next to each other in a cafe. She is wearing headphones and they are both in the same position - heads tilted, hands on the table.

It is such a thoughtful, insightful, sensitive approach to this relationship setting that I was completely blown away by that alone. And then, AND THEN, the film has a sense of humor (Suzanne crying in her mother’s arms, sobbing, “I’m in love with an adult!” was at the same time so funny and such perfect characterization, I am in awe) and a fucking beautiful dance scene? I was literally bouncing out of the cinema I was so happy with the film.

I’m absolutely and deeply impressed by the work Lindon did on this film. Barely 20, a first time writer, director and actor and she did all of this (plus sing on the soundtrack)? I bow to it all and I will have tickets to whatever she does next. I hope she does a lot of it.

Suzanne (Suzanne Lindon) hiding in the audience area of the theater.

Summarizing: pretty much perfect.

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