Spring (2014)

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Thank God for indie cinema.

Remember ‘Le Festin’ by Camille from the Ratatouille soundtrack? Imagine playing that over the speakers; you are having a bottle of wine with the person you hopelessly love. Now, to ruin this nice moment, let’s say you’re having a raw, alive octopus for dinner. You stab at its tentacles repeatedly to get a good portion of its slimy body on your fork. You might want to skip over this movie if you are already disgusted with the deliriously screwed-up image playing out in your head. Intrigued? Read on.

Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead direct this 100-minute madhouse of a film by slashing in its haunting tone some profound ideas and a refreshingly alive romance at its facade. The screenplay by Justin Benson is the base for its atmospheric mousetrap and the actors dance around its celebratory kookiness with sensational control. Spring is Before Sunrise meets V/H/S with a good amount of drugs.

Evan goes to Italy after realizing his inability to deal with the loss of his parents. He fears the cop who shows up at his door because Evan had smashed the sunlight out of a man in a bar fight the night before. He travels with a group of guys for a while till he meets the fatally irresistible Louise. The narrative sneaks up closely on the relationship maturing between the two characters before reversing its tone with a ferocity that will have you digging your nails into your skin. The antediluvian character arc sketched out for Louise should cause trouble in a film that masquerades as a cliched European love story but it doesn’t. The colossal transformation in the film’s mood is strikingly disturbing at times; fascinating and inventively ravishing to the senses all the same.

Lou Taylor Pucci fits the simple boundaries of his character (Evan) with verve. He is a mouthpiece for the makers in one scene and the audience’s in another when the shocking truth behind Louise is administered to him. Nadia Hilker is enthralling as Louise. The film revolves around the quasi-scientific myth of her puzzling body alterations and her brilliant performance effectively smooths that out from when we first met her: a devastatingly gorgeous girl in a red dress. Aaron Moorhead’s camera races along for the demented expedition crafting frames that deserve to be on a postcard. If they ever include this riveting movie in the ‘cult’ cannon, please remember that yours truly predicted it.

Spring aspires to an almost Linklater-esque quality of romance when the two talk about finite lives, sunrises and sunsets: some things are just beautiful no matter what. It is a meta-moment of affecting boldness ‒ a film has switched genres that could be considered to be on the far ends of the spectrum, creating a blood-stained rainbow on its path in the process. Grade A.

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