Evaluation: Suzanne Lindon makes an astonishingly bold debut with coming-of-age film ‘Spring Blossom’

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Suzanne of the People from france drama “Spring Blossom” is at that awkward age: not really a girl, not yet a female. It’s an age which is explored cinematically time and again; just look at the poster hanging in her room for Maurice Pialat’s 1983 film “Á Nos Amours, ” starring Sandrine Bonnaire as another adolescent Suzanne exploring her sexuality. But what’s different regarding the Suzanne of “Spring Blossom” is that she’s realized by a teen herself: writer, director and star Suzanne Lindon wrote the film when she was 15 plus directed and starred within it at age 19.

Lindon’s youth is extraordinary, because her point of view at the experience of the teenage female is so immediate. But such a confident and self-assured first would be remarkable for a filmmaker of any age, as “Spring Blossom” is a carefully wrought, sensitively felt plus artistically bold work.

Suzanne feels out of place with kids her age group, and it’s not surprising whatsoever that she develops a schoolgirl crush on the older Raphaël ( Arnaud Valois , perfect wish hunk casting), a stage actor she notices at the local theater. She begins to loiter around his regular haunts, and the two start a tentative, confusing relationship: it’s more than friendship but not very romance, though for Suzanne it feels like love.

Lindon’s aesthetic can be lyrical and haunting, utilizing a graceful handheld camera and natural light (the cinematography is by Jérémie Attard). Her grasp of visual storytelling is both innate plus experimental, using dance and choreographed movement to demonstrate unspoken emotions and unique contacts, whether that’s Suzanne dance in the street or an almost magical realist pas de 2 between Suzanne and Raphaël over breakfast. A moment where she sways tenderly along with her mother is mirrored later as she sways with him, reminding people yet again of the liminal room she inhabits.

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By starring in her own film, Lindon makes her own youth apparent as an artist, along with the youth of her personality, who remains coltish plus childlike. Her perspective in the genre of teen coming-of-age films is crucial for this reason; she’s also in league with a new generation of French feminine filmmakers using cinema in order to reckon with a culture associated with romanticizing or sexualizing teenage girls who aren’t outfitted to handle the complexities associated with adult relationships. Lindon proves they are more than ready to add their own voices and experiences to the cultural narrative.

‘Spring Blossom’

In French with English subtitles

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour 13 moments

Actively playing: Starts May 21, Laemmle Royal, West L. A.; and Acropolis Cinema at the Lumiere Music Hall, Beverly Hills (Fri. -Sun. ); also on Laemmle Digital Cinema