Falling in love is never a logical process, and try as you might, you can’t really control it. But those of us lucky enough to find someone that reciprocates that love should fight for it, no matter the obstacles, however monstrous they are. In Justin Benson’s and Aaron Moorhead’s SPRING, we are able to witness the start of the process with a dark twist.
Lou Taylor Pucci, who I’ve been a fan of since THUMBSUCKER, is Evan, a cook that has just lost his mother to cancer shortly after his father’s death. Feeling lost and extremely hurt, he needs an escape, not helped by the local wanna be gangsters. Spurred into action by his best friend, Tommy (Jeremy Gardner, THE BATTERY, THE MIND’S EYE), and a pity lay, Evan decides to leave the country. Off for a drunken venture into Italy to forget about his loss. While many a horror films have begun with a similar story spark, SPRING veers more into the BEFORE SUNRISE territory than it does into HOSTEL thankfully.
“You have the same back story as Batman! This is so cool!”
Meeting Louise (Nadia Hilker), a beautiful well traveled scientist, is just the cure that Evan needs. Immediately smitten, he opts to ask her for a date rather than taking her up on her offer to just get out of the bar they are at. After she refuses and leaves without him, Evan is crestfallen, and ridiculed by the British tourists he’d been travelling with.
As the Brits decide to head on to other areas, Evan chooses to stay in town, finding room and board at a fruit farm owned by widower Angelo (Francesco Carnelutti, THE ORDER, THE DA VINCI CODE). While learning about tree care and hybrid fruits, he runs into Louise again in town, eventually convincing her to spend time with him.
Hiding a dark secret, Louise is hesitant to open up to Evan, who is also hiding his past from her. Eventually, the two learn of each other’s secrets, but after already falling for the other. The film is about truly loving someone, not despite their flaws and imperfections, but because of them. That is what makes them unique and beautiful to you. And it plays through this beautifully and is heart breaking at the same time.
“Well at least you have the same back story as Harry Potter. That is pretty cool.”
As the leads, Pucci and Hilker do a superb job of drawing the audience in, getting you to fall for their dark fated story, much as their characters fell for each other. You find yourself rooting for them to work, hoping beyond hope that there is a remedy to the thing that could tear them apart (metaphorically and literally).
Carnelutti is delightful as the wise mentor to Evan, giving advice both on farming, as well as how to hold a relationship with fiery Italian women. And sadly, we only get a short visit with Gardner as Tommy. Gardner is channeling Ben Affleck from GOOD WILL HUNTING, with profane wise cracks that I’ve already banked into my vocabulary much to my wife’s chagrin.
SPRING is a beautiful, haunting film that will leave you thinking about it days later. I attempted to watch it in the background while working on this review and I realized shortly that I had closed my laptop, put away my phone, and was just enjoying it again. Despite knowing the secret, I was still swept away by the story and performances the second time through.
SPRING is available in theaters, on VOD, and available for purchase in a Bit Torrent Bundle from FilmBuff and Drafthouse Films.