Spring (2015)

Posted by April 8, 2015

(This review contains some spoilers. I usually try to avoid that; alas, sometimes they aren't as easy to avoid. Apologies.)

"Spring" doesn't fail for lack of trying. In fact, it's relatively unclear whether the film fails in the first place. The issue is a lack of cohesion. In one corner, we have the emotional backbone of characters to whom we grow accustomed over the course of ninety of the film's 109 minutes, even despite the major shortcoming. We grow to connect to our protagonist's sense of melancholy and loneliness when we first meet him, and we like to see him fall quickly for a woman while on a personal journey through another country. In the other corner, we have the stuff involving an evolutionary freakazoid monster dealt with in a way that can only be described as goofy.

The disparate elements don't mesh comfortably. Evan (Lou Taylor Pucci) has lost his mother (Holly Hawkins) to cancer before the title hits the screen, and she was the last of a family that is soon to die out (The father had a sudden heart attack years before) unless he meets someone and carries on the legacy. He lashes out in anger at the loss of his loved ones, which is totally understandable, given his position. He loses his job as a sous chef at a rundown bar-and-grill. His best mate Tommy (Jeremy Gardner) suggests he get out of town for a while to clear his head. He decides on a whim to go to Italy (There is an amusing moment when he receives counsel on this whim from a baffled passerby).

It is in Italy where he meets Louise (Nadia Hilker), a pretty stranger with a slight accent in whom he grows an instantaneous interest. The two hit things off well enough, but Louise has a secret. You guessed it--she's the one with the evolutionary defect, and this is some defect. Her explanation basically places her among the oldest things in Anno Domini, but this is the silly stuff of a mediocre monster movie at best, and screenwriter Justin Benson (who also co-directed the film with Aaron Moorhead) suspects wrongly that the sweetness of their burgeoning romance--he with the life story of a certain superhero who operates at night, she with a similar protective charm to the young wizard with a lightning-bolt-shaped forehead scar--can meld comfortably without assessing the cost of this (for lack of a better term) transaction.

The result is two movies that might have worked separately if not for each one's insistence on informing the other's trajectory. The romance, reasons Benson, just won't work without explaining a caveat in her genetic makeup that won't allow it; the creature stuff doesn't work alone without trying to prove that True Love is an all-conquering force of nature. The movie seems to reach a stalemate between these two options by the uncertain final shot, and that's both a strength and a weakness. All that "Spring" ultimately adds up to is a touristy fling with some honest conversation between lost souls and some Cronenbergian body horror thrown in for good measure.

Film Information

Lou Taylor Pucci (Evan), Nadia Hilker (Louise), Jeremy Gardner (Tommy), Holly Hawkins (Nicole Russell), Francesco Carnelutti (Angelo).

Directed by Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead and written by Benson.

No MPAA rating.

109 minutes.

Released in select cities on March 20, 2015.