This film first caught my attention several years ago, but as often is the case with indie films with limited distribution deals, the film proved elusive to find in HD resulting in an outlay not worth the blind-buy. Years passed, and I’d actually forgotten about it. Thankfully, as often happens these days, by pure chance I found the film on Amazon Prime and having re-sparked my curiosity from years ago, could not resist- I watched it immediately.
After the death of his mother, Evan (Lou Taylor Pucci), a troubled young American tries to escape his problems with the law by taking a trip to Italy, where he enjoys a few drunken adventures with some Brits and ends up in an old, quiet coastal town. A beautiful woman, Louise (Nadia Hilker) catches his eye and he finds himself intrigued by her and falling in love. It might be the Italian sun, the sea, the wine, or the fact that she’s quite gorgeous and extraordinary, but its rather like Avanti! for the Lovecraft generation. The film is exquisitely photographed, really making the most of the startling and captivating locations, just as Billy Wilder’s film did, giving the film a lushly romantic feel. Evan is right about one thing- Louise, you see, is indeed no ordinary woman, but not wholly in the romantic sense that Evan is thinking of.
Spring is surprisingly a very subtle movie; I was quite swept away by it. Its mostly a character piece, with two fantastic leads. Pucci is a naive young man angry at the world , trying to escape his troubled past by finding something new, always trying to do the ‘right thing’. Hilker, meanwhile, as the bewitching Louise is quite a revelation, a beauty who is older and wiser than her apparent age suggests and quite a force of nature, an exciting and mysterious femme fatalle. I had one of those ‘where have I seen her face before?’ moments until I discovered she’s appeared in the last few seasons of The Walking Dead that I watched before bailing on the show last year: chalk her up as another great talent utterly wasted by the soul-destroying writing on that show. In Spring, she utterly shines, stealing every scene she’s in: its definitely her movie and on the evidence of this performance deserves success in future films if she can escape that tv show.
Considering this is indeed a monster movie with a few startling transformations and shocks, its quite a feat that its the relationship between the two characters that proves the centrepiece of the movie. Its no mean achievement in a film like this to establish a realistic, emotive relationship as if its primarily a date movie posing as a genre piece, rather than the other way around. Indeed, I think its not until the hour-mark that the horror aspect starts to surface.
My reference to Lovecraft in the title of this post is not accidental- its really got Lovecraftian undertones, albeit grown-up, open-minded Lovecraft (which, er, doesn’t exist, now that I think of it). In some ways one could get away with summarising this film as Billy Wilder’s Avanti! crossed with Stuart Gordon’s Dagon. If that sounds intriguing, you’d be right. I suppose in some ways, that whole monster sub-plot proves totally unnecessary, and that’s what might make this film so interesting/frustrating: the two leads are so good and their romance so convincing, that’s probably enough, leaving the horror almost superfluous. Which really isn’t what I had expected, and made it such a pleasant surprise.
If I have a problem with the film, its possibly how it concludes. If by some ghastly whim Lovecraft ever had really written a horror romance, he would have had it much darker, but the film goes the Billy Wilder route. Individual mileage may vary- I guess some may feel its perfect and validates everything that happens earlier in the film, and I guess they’d be right, but that’s never how Lovecraft had it in his stories, finally making the film less of a Lovecraftian movie that it threatens to be. Intellectually that darker end would have been more fitting, perhaps, albeit it could have felt like a bitter punch to the stomach so the alternative taken is hardly surprising.
Spring is apparently finally coming to Blu-ray here in the UK later in the summer, if that still comes to pass I think I’ll be getting a copy. This was a great little movie.
Spring is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.