Thursday, February 15, 2018

Spring (2014)

Relevant to this time of year, Spring is a beautiful film about love ❤

This one was recommended to me ages ago, but I've a habit of deliberately putting off films I'm certain I'm going to really like. Does anyone else do this? The timing has to be right, my mood has to be just so... I want to honour the film properly. So on the eve of Valentine's Day, I was ready. I dove in.

Spring benefits from you knowing as little as possible going in, so we're going to circle around the real meat of the plot here. We're introduced to Evan (Lou Taylor Pucci), a Californian with nothing much left to keep him there: he's lost both parents in quick succession, his best friend is wasted all the time, he has no job prospects and he's in trouble with the cops. Life is shit and he's miserable. To escape it all, he books a random ticket to Italy.

Once there, he meets a couple of rowdy Englishmen who show him the sights, and when they peace out and head to Amsterdam, Evan decides to stay and find work. He gets a job and lodging on a local farm and then attempts to get to know a gorgeous woman he keeps seeing around town.

Louise (Nadia Hilker) is at once mysterious, haughty, and captivating. The first time they talk she makes it clear she literally just wants to have sex with him. Finding this a little full-on, Evan suggests getting a drink together first: "I gotta make sure that you're the kind of crazy I can deal with."

They spend time together, and they eat, they drink, they talk and fuck. In the span of less than a week, they grow close. Louise is affectionate but evasive, sometimes unexpectedly running off or ducking out of dates early. Evan just accepts her as a tempestuous Italian woman, but we're shown tantalising peeks into her world, showing it's way weirder than that.

The layers are expertly peeled back, with the audience faintly aware of Louise's "issues", but not understanding the hows and whys. When Evan arrives at her apartment for the the most jaw-dropping scene of the movie, it starts a series of scenes of natural exposition, unfolding Louise's tale in all of its astonishing glory, and following Evan as he processes it.

I have to give special mention to the character of Evan, who is a genuinely good bloke. He wears his heart on his sleeve and he's just trying to get over some awful personal shit from back home. In his new situation we witness him work hard, have a cool relationship with his boss (an old olive farmer) and fall hard for Louise. You absolutely believe him when he expresses his feelings for her. The softness in his character is portrayed so well by Lou Taylor Pucci; he's vulnerable, but not mawkish; sensible (not just bedding Louise the minute he meets her, like she suggests) and self-deprecating. This is a male lead written in a way a lot of others could learn from!

With a story told so well, and mostly using natural locations (rather than dressed sets), this reminded me a lot of Monsters. It's a film whose location is a strong part of the story, acting almost as an additional character, and despite Spring's settings often being immense - wave-battered coastlines, churches, tombs, ruins - it all still feels so intimate. 

That feeling of falling in love, when you feel like the only two people in the world... Spring captures that.

My congratulations to directors Justin Benson (who also wrote the story) and Aaron Moorhead, and actors Nadia Hilker (who is also fantastic, please don't think otherwise) and Lou Taylor Pucci. This is a beautiful little monster and I'm already looking forward to watching it again.

Available to stream on Shudder right now 

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