It’s been over a week since I saw American indie, SPRING, directed by brilliantly by Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, but I haven’t really stopped thinking about it. Love is my favourite genre of all time, but only a few movies have made me reflect over it, and those films need not necessarily be entirely about love at all.
For example, the last film that made me deliberate over love was Spike Jonze’s HER. Unfortunately, I never did end up writing about the film, and I know that Her is about so many larger issues than love – but at its heart, it was about the heart. Because when you think about it, is there really an issue larger than love? Deeper than matters of the heart? Wars have been fought about it, Facebook has been invented over it, wonders of the world have been created for it…
What I really did love about Her – and I think I’ll go back to the film one of these days to feel again what I felt when I first saw it – was that it asked a very pertinent question about love, and attempted to explore the answers to the same: Can love exist beyond bodies? If yes, then can love exist beyond souls too? Of course, in the answer to this question, lies an entire universe of questions about the mind, loneliness, intimacy and sex, which needs to be answered first. And the genius of Her lies in the fact that each one of its viewers would have a different answer to the same, and each one of those answers would be the own, personal truth of that viewer.
Spring, of course, is not nearly as complex as Her, and it doesn’t need to be, because the beauty of the film lies in the simplicity of its theme. But Spring too, raises a pertinent question about an aspect of love that may seem all too simple, but is, in fact, the most complex question, perhaps, of all time: How do you know it’s love? And as an extension to the same: *When* do you know it’s love?
I cannot continue any further without mild spoilers about the plot, but trust me, as in all romantic films, the movie’s not really about the climax at all, but about the journey towards it. Spring is a genre mash up of a romantic comedy and body horror. It’s Richard Linklater meets David Cronenberg; or Woody Allen meets Guillermo Del Toro. But the terrific thing about the film is that it’s got its own, unique take on love, which is distinctly different to those of the aforementioned masters of cinema.
If you’ve seen the trailer of the film above, you’ll know that Spring is about a guy (the charming Lou Taylor Pucci) who meets a beautiful Italian girl (and my God, Nadia Hilker *is* beautiful) and over multiple nights of a Before Sunrise-esque romance, falls desperately in love with her. But instead of a train that the girl needs to get on, there’s a fantastical, paranormal, biological or perhaps straight-up twisted phenomenon that the girl needs to get with, and her love is tested against this ticking clock, but also by this phenomenon.
To go into the territory of strong spoilers: The girl has a condition wherein she’ll morph into another woman every 20 years (but only after becoming a monster first) and live another life from scratch, unless… she falls in love with somebody. And that’s the brilliance of Spring: writer Justin Benson possibly worked backwards with the answer to the question of ‘How/when do you know it’s love’ – when you morph into another being – and created this beautiful, quirky horror romcom that leads upto the ‘will she/won’t she’ climax on drugs.
The body horror element of the script is what lends a wonderful weirdness to this odd scifi romcom, but as with Her, at its heart, Spring is not about the body, but about the heart too. It takes the fear and profound anxiety of learning whether or not the person you love, loves you back, and compounds it with the terrifying fantasy element of the worst way to get turned down ever: by getting eaten by the monster that person turns into! But as they say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger… as a couple, right?
Lame jokes aside, the gorgeously shot (by Aaron Moorhead) and directed Spring is easily my favourite indie film of the year so far and perhaps will be on the top of my list through 2015, because ultimately, it is about love, in its purest and most heartbreaking form, the love that ‘comes around only a couple of times if you’re lucky.’ And if you’re really lucky, she’ll know that it’s love too.
Agree/disagree with the review? Know other films similar to it? Leave your thoughts in the comments below 🙂
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