Every year, a select few films are able to do what most filmmakers aspire to: transcend the genre the film would typically fall into and become something else, something greater. These films not only entertain us (as they should), but invoke an emotional response for one reason or another. Maybe the viewer has gone through losing a loved one and felt themselves falling deeper into self destruction. Maybe we as viewers have felt that spark of knowing that we’ve met “the one”, but have been faced with an monumental task of looking past anything negative about them and seeing them for who (or in this case what) they are. Regardless, when one of those films arrive, it’s a reason to celebrate and do your best to champion them. Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead’s SPRING is just that kind of a film, a beautifully haunting look at seeing past the faults of the ones we love, all while dealing with a creature involved.
Following the death of his mother, Evan (Lou Taylor Pucci, THUMBSUCKER, EVIL DEAD) is lost in life. He spends his time drinking at his work with his buddy (THE BATTERY‘s Jeremy Gardner) , who is somewhat of Evan’s voice of reason, but a mess himself. When Evan beats the living hell out of a bar patron running his mouth, not only are the man and his friends looking for Evan, but soon enough, the police will be too, so Evan does an impulsive thing by taking a trip to Italy.
Already by the time Evan arrives it Italy, we as viewers already care for the guy. You can see the heartbreak of losing his mother in his eyes, and if you don’t tear up at the opening scene in the film, you have no heart. When Evan does arrive in a new country, he meets Angelo, an older man looking for someone to help him pick his orchard of fruit in exchange for room and board. In love with the beautiful scenery of the Italian countryside, Evan agrees and begins to hit the town during his off time. He soon meets Louise (Nadia Hilker in an absolutely breakthrough role), a mysterious and compelling young woman, one that instantly leaves Evan enthralled. Soon, Evan finds himself running into Nadia more often, and following a night of sex, Evan begins to develop strong feelings for Nadia.
While this might seem like something out of a Richard Linklater, it’s more than that. The first half of the film really deals with Evan coming to terms with lost and really finding someone he can care about, and it’s absolutely wonderful to go through that journey alongside him. Benson and Moorhead knows how to write and create realistic feeling characters, something that was made obvious by their previous film, RESOLUTION. When their characters talk, we believe in them, a true testament to the filmmaking duo’s abilities as storytellers.
Where the film heads into somewhat of a genre tone, is when we as viewers get a glimpse at a mysteriously dark side of Louise. Without injections, her skin begins to crack, and she turns into something that is far from human. While it works on a genre level, it feels much more metaphorical to this writer, and when Evan is faced with the truth about Louise, he panics at first, but has to decide whether or not he can deal with Louise and her differences, if being in love with someone is enough to overlook certain fantastical elements never seen to human beings. It’s an endearing dilemma and approached beautifully and very artistically. This film could only be made by Benson and Moorhead, and it is one profoundly beautiful and melancholic film, filled with resonating emotions, on par with falling in love for the first time.
Very few films like SPRING are made these days, and I am so glad this one was, it’s a heartfelt and beautiful film that deals with loss, finding your soul mate and having to decide whether or not they’re worth going through the darkest of situations for. It’s easily one of the best films of year, if not of all time. I can honestly say that SPRING will touch you very deeply and leave you wanting to experience the beautiful story again and again.