A Different Kind of Love: Spring (2014)
This review features spoilers for the film Spring. It's recommended you go watch Spring first, if you haven't, and come back and read this.
Nothing lasts forever, not relationships, not jobs, not even the town you live in. Most of Spring is set in Italy, where reminders of the past are everywhere. Every building is ancient. The farming lifestyle is old fashioned. Vesuvius looms in the distance. Louise (Nadia Hilker) has spent her life immersed in history and has taken its fleeting nature to heart. As she welcomes Evan (Lou Taylor Pucci) into her life, he helps her realize that the fading nature of time is natural. Roaming through museums, ancient caves, and Vesuvian ruins, Spring is constantly letting its audience know that not everything is meant to last, while reminding you to enjoy what’s there.
After his mom passes away back home and a bar fight gets the police on his tail, Evan Russell travels to Italy for a new start and hopefully a new outlook on life. He finds both when he meets Louise, a nice Italian girl who works for a local university and studies in the area. After a few weeks of dating, Louise breaks some hard news—she’s a couple millennia older than she looks. She looks so young because every twenty years she gives birth to a new version of herself as her old body rots away. She’s recently become pregnant to the newest version of herself and Evan’s the father, meaning they only have a limited time before the change happens. There is a caveat, or at least she thinks there is. If she falls in love before she gives birth, the oxytocin produced will change the process and allow her to live a mortal life. That’s what happened to her mother, before she and her husband were killed in the Vesuvius eruption. With this new knowledge Evan decides to stay with Louise, hoping that she’ll love him enough to live.
It’s honestly hard for a plot summary to do this movie justice. Most of the Lovecraftian elements are reserved for the third act, while the middle portion is more similar to Before Midnight. Evan and Louise’s romance is natural, and directors Aaron Moorehead and Justin Benson shoot their dates with such a gentle touch, allowing their chemistry to shine through. The setting doesn’t hurt either. There’s something about that part of Europe that’s just naturally romantic and Benson and Moorehead capture that perfectly, allowing the audience to fall in love with the town, alongside Evan.
Hilker also does a great job as Louise, giving a richness that’s slowly becoming less rare in romances. The way that the script slowly reveals her secret is immensely enjoyable, keeping the viewer guessing. Her body begins to misbehave, transforming into werewolves, vampires and tentacle monsters. Her transformations aren’t consistent and always something new, so it’s hard to tell what’s happening with her. As her pregnancy and relationship with Evan progresses, her hesitancy grows as well. She can’t control what her body will do, so she’s hesitant to keep an innocent bystander around. She’s also afraid to grow close to someone she’ll likely have to say goodbye to soon. Nothing in her life lasts longer than twenty years, so she holds herself back from any potential relationship.
Evan puts an end to this string, though. He’s seen enough of his family die that saying goodbye has become natural. Initially introduced as a drunk just looking for fun, Pucci understands that his character doesn’t enjoy his past. Evan really comes to life when he’s with Louise. He goes all in on that relationship after just a few dates, deciding to get a job in her town so he can give the relationship a shot. He’s not afraid of commitment, and the news that his girlfriend is quasi-immortal doesn’t faze him, neither does the news that she’ll be leaving him soon. His close relationships with those now dead have taught him to love regardless of how long it will last. Evan understands the value of mortality, and his decision to stick with Louise even as she passes on is what draws her to him.
Evan and Louise are a natural pair, her life has been a never-ending series of new beginnings and his has been a series of endings. They each have a piece of life that they can help each other grasp. Louise shows Evan how to start fresh, helping him settle into a new life. In return, Evan shows Louise that mortality isn’t as bad as it seems. Beginnings and ends are a theme that runs throughout Benson and Moorehead’s work, and Spring is a celebration of both.