Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Spring: Love Comes on Stealthy Tentacles
Evan saw Louise, it is like a scene from a Sophia Loren film or Ruth Orkin’s
famous photo. In this case, he is the visiting American, while she is very
definitely a seductive Italian. Eventually, he learns there is considerably more
to her than meets the eye. The truth comes as a shock, but it is not enough to dissuade
him from wooing the mystery woman in Benson & Moorhead’s Spring (trailer here), which opens this
Friday in New York.
should have gotten out of his dead-end burg long ago, but his father’s untimely
death and his mother’s protracted illness kept him anchored to their old home.
When she finally succumbs, there is little holding him there, but a drunken
brawl with a vengeful gang member gives him every reason to leave. On his buddy’s
advice, his hurriedly departs on the Italian trip his father always wanted to
take. Initially, he takes the youth hostel route, falling in with some
obnoxious Brits. Frankly, Evan can hardly stand them, but he tags along on their
excursion to Puglia anyway. When he sees the town’s old world charm and Louise’s
sultry beauty, he decides to stay.
Louise is adamantly opposed to any sort of long term entanglement, but Evan
slowly wears down her objections. He even finds lodging and employment with
Angelo, a sympathetic farmer outside of town. However, unbeknownst to Evan,
Louise requires regular injections to halt her transformation into something
slimy and Lovecraftian. As she eventually explains to Evan, her cyclical
condition is getting increasingly severe. When it reaches its regular twenty
year apex, it will be dashed dangerous for him to be around her. As a trained genetic
biologist who has gone through this process a time or to before, she knows of
what she speaks. Yet, Evan is not prepared to cut-and-run on their relationship
& Moorhead (as the filmmaker partners Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead prefer
to be billed) have really raised the dramatic standard of genre films with Spring. They take their time fully establishing
the characters of Evan and Louise and the dynamics of their relationship,
before introducing the exquisite bizarreness lurking below the surface.
Frankly, their early courtship scenes work quite well on their own merits,
separate and apart from the strange developments that follow. Yet, the
particulars of who Louise is and how she continues to exist over time are well
thought out and scrupulously observe their own internal logic. Indeed, the
third act never feels like a tacked-on curve ball from left field, but rather
the culmination of the careful groundwork laid by the cast and filmmakers.
well-deserved award winner at last year’s Fantastic Fest, Lou Taylor Pucci is
unusually compelling as Evan, offsetting his impulsive punkiness with a deeper
sensitivity. He also develops some powerful romantic chemistry with Nadia
Hilker’s Louise. Although much more reserved (when not writhing in the
agonizing throes of her uncanny convulsions), Hilker vividly suggests the
world-weariness and emotional baggage one might associate with the more
romantic strain of vampires. Veteran Italian thespian also provides a rock
solid moral anchor for the film as the gruff but compassionate Angelo.
Spring is a terrific film
precisely because it takes its time and trusts the audience’s maturity and
discernment. It takes a road not often taken in genre cinema, reaping
distinctive results. Moorhead’s darkly stylish cinematography heightens the
mood, both with respects to the romance and the creeping dread, perfectly
serving the macabrely dreamy narrative. Very highly recommended for fans of
crossover classics, Spring opens this
Friday (3/20) in New York, at the Cinema Village.
Labels: Benson & Moorhead