Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

"A film about the importance of asking for unreasonable things from other people."

We first meet Evan (Lou Taylor Pucci) when he's at the bedside of his dying mother. Drained of blood, with little hair remaining on her head, she barely looks human any more. There is a weight of tenderness between them. She knows what her son has given up to be with her in these final months, and she knows why. Despite his evident love for her, he doesn't. In the days that follow her death he lets his life spiral out of control, getting in a fight, losing his job, and soon finding himself on the opposite side of the world, wandering through Italy with a cheery pair of British thugs. An itinerant life of casual jobs and short-lived friendships beckons, a chance to escape from his feelings of anger and guilt. But then he meets a woman (Nadia Hilker) like no other he has ever met before.

Focusing on a romance that proves much more complicated than it initially appears, Spring is a film about mortality, love, and the sacrifices we all make to find what matters in life. It's also a film about the importance of asking for unreasonable things from other people. At times drifting along like a classic lighthearted holiday movie, it spikes casual conversation with barbs we won't notice until later, when things start to change. Dismissing the notion of ideal body types, Even cheerily comments that all most men want is a healthy girl. Later he sees a syringe on Louise's bathroom floor. She's not a junkie, she assures him. It's for a medical condition. He doesn't probe. He's a nice guy. He couldn't begin to guess.

Spring intercuts moments of body horror so bizarre and fleeting that we find ourselves wondering if we really saw what we thought we saw. Like the grotesques hidden away among the art and the architecture as the couple tour the city, they hint at a different world coexisting with the familiar. Louise dismisses any notion of the supernatural. There's plenty that we just don't understand yet, she says. Evan is convinced that it's hard enough for a guy like him just to understand women. He seems to keep saying or doing the wrong thing. When Louise gets angry, he's endlessly patient; with little direction of his own, he's ready to mould his life to fit around hers. But just how far might he need to go?

Pucci is superb in giving us a hero who is likeable, relatable, and yet still interesting to be with as he blunders through the world. Hilker provides just the right balance of intensity and reticence as a woman whose sense of her own nature is challenged by increasing identification with him. The film's more fantastic aspects don't always quite gel, but that doesn't detract from the human story at its core. The special effects, sparingly used, are brilliant, but equally important is Aaron Moorhead 's dreamy cinematography. Spring is bold and fresh and full of life.

Reviewed on: 28 Feb 2015
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Spring packshot
A grieving man falls for a woman with a dark secret.
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Director: Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead

Writer: Justin Benson

Starring: Lou Taylor Pucci, Nadia Hilker, Nick Nevern, Augie Duke, Jeremy Gardner, Holly Hawkins, Vinny Curran, Kenzo Lee, Shane Brady, Chris Palko, Vanessa Bednar, Francesco Carnelutti, Jonathan Silvestri, Some Other Guy

Year: 2014

Runtime: 109 minutes

Country: US


London 2014

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