MOVIE REVIEW: SPRING / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR: JUSTIN BENSON, AARON MOORHEAD / SCREENPLAY: JUSTIN BENSON / STARRING: LOU TAYLOR PUCCI, NADIA HILKER, VANESSA BEDNAR, FRANCESCO CARNELUTTI, SHANE BRADY / RELEASE DATE: APRIL 17TH
Evan (Pucci) is in turmoil. His life seems to be falling apart following the death of his mother, so he takes the advice of his friends and takes himself off to Italy. After a few boozy days with some fellow travellers, he meets a beautiful young girl, Louise (Hilker), who entrances him. Not put off by her off-the-cuff and hard-to-get manner, he decides to stick around after his drinking buddies move on. Taking a bed-and-work job on an olive farm (the wizened Carnelutti adding to the Mediterranean flavour), he begins seeing Louise, but despite seemingly getting along, remains strangely at arm’s length emotionally.
Things are not quite what they seem with Louise, as we find out she’s harbouring a secret. One which requires regular injections otherwise things get terribly ugly.
Although there’s a very real palpable sense of dread built, it would be a mistake to call Spring a horror film. The first act is mainly well-acted drama, then it moves gradually to mysterious romance, before the revelation, and then the there’s almost a presiding feel of a mythical history lesson. Under the dual direction of Moorhead and Benson (from the latter’s script), the different tones blend beautifully together. The former’s sumptuous cinematography makes the most of the glorious locations, with some stunning shots and fluid camera movements through the moody Italian street
The leads manage admirably with the dense, often complex material, and have a genuine chemistry together, which makes their emotional plight even more captivating. An appearance early on from The Battery’s Jeremy Gardner provides a light edge, but for the most part it’s a cerebral journey through a relationship that where commitment could come at too high a price.
It’s perhaps only when it comes to the somewhat suspect CGI that the film shows any flaws. Had it stuck to practical effects, it may well have got away with it. Thankfully, these digital flourishes are used sparingly and for the most part it’s icky, sticky and very gnarly.
It’s a film that requires a little patience and no preconceptions. Go in with an open mind, expecting nothing, and it will reward you with a wonderfully offbeat romantic drama, with just the right amount of elements to keep it with the ‘genre’. There’s an ethereal quality which is engrossing, rich in atmosphere and rather splendid. At times, it feels as though it could be heading into Cat People territory, but instead, the truth about Louise conjures a more intense ethical and personal dilemma. At its core, Spring is essentially about the choices we make for love. With added tentacles.
Expected Rating 6 out of 10