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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Spring movie review: she’s waaay out of his league

Spring red light

A same-old male-ego-stroking romantic-wish-fulfillment fantasy becomes actually enraging when it adds a sci-fi-horror twist.
I’m “biast” (pro): nothing

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

There are all the movies about regular schmoes who snag amazing gorgeous brilliant girlfriends because they so totally deserve amazing gorgeous brilliant girlfriends despite the fact that they are not amazing or gorgeous or brilliant themselves. Those movies tend to be really annoying for the stroking of male egos they represent, both onscreen and off, with their subtext of “Hey, you, out in the audience. You totally deserve a supermodel neurosurgeon girlfriend too!” And they’re annoying for how we never see the converse: the regular gal who totally deserves a billionaire genius playboy boyfriend. And for how the fact that these movies are not derided as wish-fulfillment romantic fantasies while infinitely more realistic romantic comedies get dismissed as ridiculous “chick flicks.”

There’s all those movies. And then there’s Spring.

I would love to be able to believe that Spring is a practical joke, filmmakers Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead attempting to pull our collective leg by extrapolating the subgenre of male ego-stroking wish-fulfillment romantic fantasy to an extreme so ludicrous that we simply have to laugh at it. Unfortunately, I can see no evidence to support such a contention. Spring appears to be offered to us in all sincerity as a genuine romantic drama intended to surprise and move us.

And the more I consider this, the angrier it makes me.

Evan (Lou Taylor Pucci: Evil Dead, Fast Food Nation) is an American abroad in a small fishing village in Italy. It’s not a vacation: he’s running away from the cops back home after getting into a fight in a bar, and also from the grief of his mother’s recent death. Evan is from a small-minded place where other people are astonished to discover he has a passport, and look on this object with suspicion. We are informed that Evan dropped out of university to take care of his mother, which might be the most interesting thing about him (and it’s not that interesting). He has no discernible personality. He is of average physical attractiveness. He does not appear to be well read or well informed about much of anything. He isn’t funny or witty or clever. Without any irony at all, he calls himself “a bum.” The best that the movie can say with regards to Evan is that he is not the preposterous caricature of an obnoxious ignorant rapey frat-boy American (also visiting the village) whom the movie holds up by way of contrast. But that’s not really saying much for Evan. I mean, not being a rapist is a really low bar for male accomplishment and worthiness.

And then there’s Louise (Nadia Hilker). She is beautiful. She is brainy (she’s “studying evolutionary genetics”). She is poised and confident and worldly, having lived in many different places around the planet. She speaks so many languages that she has lost count. She talks about life and death and god and other deep things that are nearly one-sided conversations because he doesn’t have much to contribute. If this were all she was, it still would make no sense that she ends up with Evan. But this is not all she is: there’s a sci-fi-horror aspect to who she is that makes her even more incredible a person, and makes it even more unbelievable that she sees anything in Evan that makes him even slightly appealing to her.

The sci-fi-horror stuff (see my “spoiler alert” post if you want more details) is the only even remotely original thing about Spring, and it is truly inventive. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it before. But that only makes this movie even more baffling. Louise is infinitely more fascinating than Evan, so why isn’t the movie about her? (There’s a lot of potential for truly unique adventures in her life story!) It’s as if Benson and Moorhead shot the first sketchy draft of Benson’s idea for a script, before they realized where the real story was. Unless the story Spring wants to tell is indeed the one that does nothing with all of Louise’s amazingness except to put it to the service of reassuring Evan that he is super super super special, as if that were in the least bit compelling. If Louise were just an ordinary extraordinary woman, this would have been yet one more regular-schmoe-snags-a-hot-girl fantasy, and it would have been just as dull and implausible as all the rest of them. But with the particular way that she’s so much further beyond ordinary than a fantasy movie girlfriend has ever been, Spring is absolutely enraging.

first viewed during the 58th BFI London Film Festival


See also: spoiler alert: about the ending of Spring


See also my #WhereAreTheWomen rating of Spring for its representation of girls and women.


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Spring (2015)
US/Can release: Mar 20 2015 (VOD same day)
UK/Ire release: May 22 2015

MPAA: not rated
BBFC: rated 15 (very strong language, strong injury detail, sexualised nudity)

viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

official site | IMDb
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

If you’re tempted to post a comment that resembles anything on the film review comment bingo card, you might want to reconsider.

  • Jurgan

    “And they’re annoying for how we never see the converse: the regular gal who totally deserves a billionaire genius playboy boyfriend.”

    Well, there is Fifty Shades of Gray, but that has its own issues…

  • WhyOWhy?

    This critic is bogus, simply because as amazing as Louise is, she’s still something else entirely that may not be necessarily appealing to the average man. This alone gives Evan some leverage, and she as a woman knows this.

  • Er, no. Love is not about “leverage,” just as “not being a rapist” isn’t enough to make a man a catch.

  • I know you’re joking, but they’re not analogous at all.

  • LargeMarge

    Enraging? Really?
    I actually found Evan very handsome. He is really attractive. As attractive as Louise. The actor has a real innocence and innate charm and I think that is the point. He’s also a poetic soul. The speech at the end is beautiful.
    For someone to stick around after “that” scene the character needs to be exactly like he is.
    Both characters see something in each other which goes way beyond what they look like and they fall in love.
    Both actors have a real ease and chemistry which is very touching.
    He’s not the “guy” we usually see in these movies. I think you place way too much importance on how he looks physically……thanks god we don’t all view the world like that.
    I found Spring to be refreshing and rather poignant.

  • WhyOWhy?

    But being a “catch” is all relative, love isn’t about some fantastical checklist, it’s an organic process based on factors like timing, personal needs, projections and perceptions. She probably wanted a partner who was nothing like her whatsoever or like men she’d dealt with in the past. The “not being a rapist” argument is moot, since he was genuinely interested in knowing more about her than what’s on the surface. You yourself MaryAnn wouldn’t date a man who’s 5’0” tall now would you?

  • Porst

    How the hell is it a wish-fulfillment male fantasy? Do you think men all secretly long for a zombie werewolf squid woman or something? Or did you just not watch the third act before reviewing it?

  • Both characters see something in each other which goes way beyond what they look like and they fall in love.

    I see no evidence of this. And I do see Louise denying that she’s in love with him, and all her behavior supporting that.

    I think *you’re* placing too much importance on *one* aspect of Evan’s character that I mentioned along with many others as failing to add up to a person that we are supposed to accept, despite all evidence to the contrary, that Louise has fallen in love with… and that he is the first man that she has fallen in love with in her extraordinary life.

  • This isn’t about who I would or wouldn’t date. It’s about what is on the screen in this movie. And the organic process isn’t there.

    She probably wanted a partner who was nothing like her whatsoever or like men she’d dealt with in the past.

    Possibly. But what she wants or doesn’t want is not represented in the film in any way at all.

  • SPOILERS

    Do you think men all secretly long for a zombie werewolf squid woman or something?

    But that’s not what he gets.

    How the hell is it a wish-fulfillment male fantasy?

    Please see the “spoiler alert” post linked at the end of the review (and again here).

    Basically, the wish-fulfillment comes in how Evan is so very very special that he is the first man this amazing woman falls in love with in *2,000 years.* And he is so very very special that she gives up her amazing life — and the chance of living maybe another 2,000 years, or maybe forever — to be with him.

    The stroking of the male ego on display here is incredible. Literally incredible.

  • James

    Pretty woman?

  • James

    Because he isn’t some amazing gorgeous man equal to the amazing gorgeous woman I guess? I don’t know. I feel like the reviewer is rather bitter and really wanted to hate this film. Evan is a rather normal guy, charming and caring and going through a transitional period in his life. Apparently the main girl is just too good for him and it’s not believable that two very different t people may end up together.

  • Because he isn’t some amazing gorgeous man equal to the amazing gorgeous woman I guess?

    No, he isn’t.

    I feel like the reviewer is rather bitter and really wanted to hate this film.

    You’re adorable. Does it make you feel better to think that only a woman who is bitter — for some secret reason that might have nothing to do with this movie — would like to see a meeting of equals onscreen?

  • Danielm80

    The analogue, I think, would be Superman II. Clark Kent gives up his superhuman abilities for Lois Lane, a brilliant and accomplished reporter.

    The point is:

    (1.) I had to go back 35 years to find an example. There are plenty of contemporary films and TV shows where an ordinary schlub is seeing a beautiful, intelligent woman.

    (2.) Evan is no Lois Lane.

  • amanohyo

    Perhaps your suggestion was meant sarcastically, but “regular gal” ≠ charming, gorgeous Hooker with Heart of Gold eighteen years your junior.

    The only recent non-Twilightish example I can think of is Phat Girlz. Overly didactic and predictable, but notable for its conscious attempt to reverse the trope.

    The Potts/Stark relationship almost qualifies because Stark is so ridiculously accomplished; however, Potts judged on her own mertis is by no means a regular gal, especially when she becomes a cyborg later on.

    Although the movies are not centered solely around their relationship, the Superman/Louis pairing would qualify under today’s standards. However, in the 30’s, Louis was an extraordinarily adventurous woman, and as with the previous example, the stories are never centered on her perspective.

    Presently this narrative gap is filled with romance novels, young adult sci-fi/fantasy, and fan fiction. So. Much. Fan. Fiction. Clearly there is an enormous hunger for female-centered, wish-fulfillment stories. It’s puzzling that studio executives appear to be mostly unable and/or unwilling to tap into that waiting mountain of cash by backing scripts set in a more realistic, contemporary setting. Maybe they’re afraid that the improbability of the plot will reveal how ludicrous the reverse scenario is?

    It is encouraging to see more and more talented actresses being hired (or more commonly, hiring themselves) who are “average looking” or at the very least not attractive in the typical barbie doll (i.e. Julia Roberts) way. That’s the first step. There’s still big money to be made by keeping women insecure and unsatisfied with their appearance, but as women gain power in Hollywood, the tide is turning slowly toward equal representation in the lovable, schlubby fuckup and regular, everyday, normal girl departments – surely a sign of better stories to come.

  • TrollHunter

    Many of this critic’s insights could be dismissed based on what’s showcased in the movie “Shallow Hal”; A ridiculous love story about the “normal” guy getting the “normal” girl. In Spring, the “normal” guy proceeds take on whatever “drama” the woman has based on his immediate infatuation of her what later turns out to be love. MOST people approach each other blindly this way, since strangers really have nothing much to go on initially but the physical attraction. It’s completely “normal” for someone to pursue someone they find initally attractive, whether physically or spiritually or whatever. A movie like Shallow Hal is completely bogus, since at the end of the day, the BIG girl was obese and lazy and one hot dog shy of a heart attack. That movie showed the Big woman had no interest in loosing weight, but having someone love her for her. In Spring both sides were far from perfect and they came together in good timing.

  • SaltHarvest

    “Louise is infinitely more fascinating than Evan, so why isn’t the movie about her? (There’s a lot of potential for truly unique adventures in her life story!)”

    If the review is representative enough of the movie (like It Follows), then I’m guessing Louise does make for the better character, but the reasons behind that guess would entail a movie with an even more enraging purpose (for MaryAnn) than the review claims this movie accomplishes. The movie seems hamstrung by sticking to the “sci-fi” premise when a religious/spiritual angle seems to be what they were aiming for. The implication is that the movie from Louise’s perspective would ascend to a proof of how many incorrect iterations Louise needed to experience before she correctly sought Evan, of all people, to be her match. I’m guessing 7 would be way too much, let alone ….

  • SaltHarvest

    Just for a matter of perspective, what do you feel/think love can be about?

  • *Shallow Hal* You mean the movie in which the schlubby guy has to be magicked into seeing a woman as insanely gorgeous and perfect, and in which the woman’s appearance is constantly made fun of?

    the BIG girl was obese and lazy and one hot dog shy of a heart attack.

    Wow, what a charmer you are!

    It’s completely “normal” for someone to pursue someone they find initally attractive, whether physically or spiritually or whatever.

    Of course it is. That has nothing to do with what I’ve written or what the movie is about.

  • I have no idea what any of this means.

  • Love can be about lots of different things. What I think about what love can be is *also* not the issue here. The issue is what is on the screen… and there is no foundation for the ending of the film.

  • RogerBW

    There seems to be an idea in screenwriting that an audience needs a “relatable” character, someone who’s not much more handsome or talented or (especially in the USA) smart than them. This is rather depressing if you want stories about interesting people.

  • SaltHarvest

    Guess I’ll have to switch to the spoiler post to be more specific.

  • SaltHarvest

    Then I don’t understand how “love is not about leverage” is a substantial remark.

  • Danielm80

    That’s also the way we select a lot of our presidential candidates.

  • Danielm80

    “Leverage” may get Evan a date. He has to be intelligent or charming or talented or accomplished or have some notable qualities in order for her to fall in love with him. Just being a nice guy who cares about her isn’t enough, unless she has really low standards. Someone who’s lived as long as Louise has presumably met people who are more interesting than an average guy who’s a good listener.

  • Danielm80

    Screenwriters tend to take shortcuts when they’re depicting love. They seem to think: “The actors are so handsome and charming that the audience will instantly fall in love with them. We don’t need to spend time writing an actual relationship.” Often, this is true. And when the actor is a successful comedian, people may carry memories of his other performances over to the big screen.

    I’m wondering if, in this case, the filmmakers overestimated the charm of the actor and assumed they could get away with the usual shortcuts.

  • Bluejay

    Yes, the reason I enjoy the James Bond and Iron Man movies so much is because I’m just like those guys. ;-)

  • LaSargenta

    I thought you were more like Blofeld…

  • SaltHarvest

    They always take shortcuts. It’s simply not possible to depict love without some things getting lost in the compression to movie-length.

  • RogerBW

    This is one of my bugbears: the screenplay that simply assumes the audience will side with the protagonist because he/she is the protagonist and doesn’t bother to make the person likeable.

  • RogerBW

    I take your point, though even so: James Bond is lecherous and lazy and not terribly bright. Tony Stark is alcoholic and fun-loving and his intelligence only shows itself in the invention of neat toys.

  • Danielm80

    People used to aspire to be the sort of hero Walter Mitty dreamed about. Now they aspire to be Walter Mitty.

    But, of course, YouTube and reality TV allow people to become famous without any actual accomplishments. And, more encouragingly, the tech boom means there are celebrities who look nothing like James Bond or Iron Man. That’s led to movies about people who are intelligent and talented but not classically handsome. I think that’s a great trend.

  • Danielm80

    True, but they don’t have to leave out the actual relationship.

  • SaltHarvest

    Thanks for starting to answer my other question, even if it was in response to the leverage remark.

    If we proceed with the notion that the partner has to have certain qualities in order to be a proper match for Louise, then it does not immediately discount the idea that leverage can be a part of the relationship. Evan could have made it his prerogative to develop/acquire those qualities, and in doing, attempt to improve Louise’s disposition towards him (mainly by out-competing other suitors who would become inferior in terms of qualities) .

  • Danielm80

    If I were attracted to a basketball fan, I could try out for a basketball team. I would immediately drop the ball and fall on my face. In the meantime, the person I like might start dating an actual basketball player. I’d rather date someone who’s interested in my actual talents and personality, instead of my ability to imitate the talents and personality of other people. Faking common interests isn’t much of a basis for a relationship.

    And, of course, none of these hypothetical situations has a whole lot to do with what actually happens in the movie.

  • Bluejay

    Yes, but I would hardly say that those flaws make them less interesting, as your original comment seems to suggest.

  • RogerBW

    The point I’m trying to get at is that people who are just basically competent, without Huge Dramatic Flaws, are often considered un-relatable.

  • SaltHarvest

    I’ll rearrange those a slight bit:

    Daniel: I’d rather date someone who’s interested in my actual talents and personality,

    SH: What if you are not interested in the people who are interested in you? What if no one is interested in you as you are right now?

    Daniel: Faking common interests isn’t much of a basis for a relationship. … instead of my ability to imitate the talents and personality of other people.

    SH: That doesn’t seem like developing skills and other new qualities. It seems like developing a knack for deception, which wasn’t what I suggesting (although not specifically excluded if you want to head in that direction).

    Daniel: If I were attracted to a basketball fan, I could try out for a basketball team. I would immediately drop the ball and fall on my face.

    SH: Even talented basketball players have room for improvement. In your hypothetical, you’d use an initial failure as an excuse to give up?

    Daniel: And, of course, none of these hypothetical situations has a whole lot to do with what actually happens in the movie.

    SH: Given all the complaints about the character Evan, I disagree. We have the critic and a number of posters placing themselves in Louise’s shoes and finding Evan to be wanting (lacking necessary qualities according to you). From a writing perspective, that suggests that Evan is an underdeveloped character. The movie would be better if it spent more time allowing Evan to develop, instead of assuming that he’s fine as is.

  • Bluejay

    But your original comment seemed to suggest that Spring’s screenwriters DID consider the average, competent Evan to be relatable, thus focusing the story on him rather than the more interesting Louise. No?

  • RogerBW

    Evan’s competent? At what? Going by the review he’s just a generic guy with no particular skills or talents or anything.

  • Bluejay

    Okay, let’s forget “competent” and go with “generic.” You’re saying generic characters (without Huge Dramatic Flaws) are considered unrelatable. But this goes against your previous statement about screenwriters focusing on generic protagonists because they DO consider them to be relatable.

  • Danielm80

    From a writing perspective, that suggests that Evan is an underdeveloped character. The movie would be better if it spent more time allowing Evan to develop, instead of assuming that he’s fine as is.

    Or the screenwriters could have given Evan skills and accomplishments from the beginning, and given Evan and Louise shared interests that helped them to form a connection.

  • RogerBW

    I think it’s more that if someone has any actual ability (that might make them seem unrelatable, going by this model) this has to be compensated for by an obvious flaw.

  • SaltHarvest

    Putting aside the similarity of those two remarks, I’d probably rebut that by discussing how these two managed to wind up in the same place at the same time, but that would require watching the movie to thoroughly explore.

  • Danielm80

    If the characters have common interests, they’re likely to meet at an event that interests both of them, whether it’s a basketball game or a poetry reading. But Evan could have that interest from the beginning, rather than adopting it later to meet someone cute.

    If Evan has real interests, skills, and accomplishments, it also makes him more fascinating to the audience. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have flaws that make Louise resist him. And the flaws might make him even more fascinating to the audience.

  • SaltHarvest

    Daniel: If the characters have common interests, they’re likely to meet at an
    event that interests both of them, whether it’s a basketball game or a
    poetry reading.

    SH: It would be my current understanding that that is what happens during the movie, no?

    Daniel: But Evan could have that interest from the beginning, rather than adopting it later to meet someone cute.

    SH: And you think that distinction is significant because…

    Daniel: If Evan has real interests, skills, and accomplishments, it also makes him more fascinating to the audience.

    SH: Would the audience not be fascinated by Evan developing interests and skills and achieving accomplishments during the course of the movie as opposed to that stuff being implied to have occurred off-screen? (Not for me, necessarily).

    Daniel: But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have flaws that make Louise resist him.
    And the flaws might make him even more fascinating to the audience.

    SH: *Cough* … Which flaws would you give him?

  • SaltHarvest

    It’s not always an asset to make the protagonist “likeable” for the audience.

  • Danielm80

    You seemed to think that Evan’s attractiveness was related to the concept of “leverage.” My point was that “leverage” (a quality that’s becoming more amorphous the longer we discuss it) is largely irrelevant to the movie. Evan needs to be a more appealing character, period. The movie requires the characters to meet, and it requires them to experience both attraction and conflict. Leverage doesn’t enter into it, unless you’re defining leverage as “anything that gets Louise to talk to Evan.”

    So I guess my question is: How are you defining leverage?

  • Jurgan

    Not sure why you assume Maryann wouldn’t date a man who’s five feet tall. I suspect you’re rather shallow and are projecting on her.

  • All of that could be true. But none of that is in the film.

    Have you seen the film?

  • It’s not that *I* find Evan wanting as a potential partner. It’s that there is nothing on the screen to suggest that Louise finds him other than wanting.

  • So you have not seen the movie. So you are discussing hypotheticals that have nothing to do with the movie.

    This is not useful or helpful.

  • It would be my current understanding that that is what happens during the movie, no?

    No, it isn’t.

  • But everything is lost here. This movie is entirely about their relationship, and there’s no there there.

  • Could be. The problem with Evan isn’t that he’s ordinary. Not per se. The problem is that we see no reason at all for Louise to fall in love with him *and* that there are no shortcuts that we point to that would fill in the blanks (even if those shortcuts might not be enough either to justify her feelings).

  • Yes!

  • SaltHarvest

    Does that also apply when you are defying Louise’s assessment of him? (No. You’re been hastily dismissive). If that’s the way you feel then it’s a bad mark on the review.

  • SaltHarvest

    Daniel: You seemed to think that Evan’s attractiveness was related to the concept of “leverage.” My point was that “leverage” (a quality that’s becoming more amorphous the longer we discuss it) is largely irrelevant
    to the movie.

    SH: That was more Whyowhy’s contention before my more general question and hypothetical discussion.

    Dan: Evan needs to be a more appealing character, period.

    SH: Something I’m not contending against.

    Daniel:So I guess my question is: How are you defining leverage?

    SH: Intentional exertion of influence on someone else’s thoughts and actions, especially when that someone is otherwise not inclined to think/act as the first person intends.

  • SaltHarvest

    So cafes and Italy do not count…

  • SaltHarvest

    I was trying to establish what you look for (or more to the past and apparently still current point, ignore) in terms of depicting a relationship. I guess in some instances I’m better off watching the movie than working with your review. I was hoping this wasn’t necessarily the case here, but it seems it is.

  • Gregory Netterville

    I rarely say much about movies, but this was the 2nd “movie” that left met angry and baffled…the tonal shifts, the bizarre music swells, the gimmicky horror… It’s like they ignored every screenwriting principle…every man in this film talks down about women, or says that they’re easy to you pick up like the magazines on the racks at 7-11… and the main character is clearly mental — considering his decision to leave America over a bar fight he wouldn’t have done time for, do hard drugs in almost every scene and have unprotected sex — then land a woman (creature?) who is over 2k years old who’s loaded but can only talk about what the man wants to talk about which usually leads to questions about sex… At one point this movie got laughable…Yikes! How did this get made? Jeez, these dudes are going to have film careers — ladies beware….

  • Does what apply? And what do you think is “Louise’s assessment of him”?

  • I have no idea what this means.

    Unless you’re suggesting that any two people in a cafe in Italy will automatically fall in love with each other.

  • What I look for in terms of depicting a relationship is going to vary from film to film. I am not attempting to dictate how a movie *must* do something. But I *am* telling you that *this one* makes no attempt at all to convince me that what I’m seeing here is love.

  • It got made because there is almost no male fantasy that cannot end up onscreen.

  • Porst

    “Incredible” because that’s not what happened. She doesn’t give up her life for him, her body just doesn’t change. She talks about it not being a choice. Her life is also not “amazing”. It’s constantly horrifying and uncomfortable and painful, she lives in fear and in hiding, only joining the public to mate every so often and then moves on. She talks about how much of a huge hassle it is to maintain everything to keep switching identities, and her condition is getting worse and her treatments less effective the more she fights it.

    As for what he “gets”: She is a 2000+ year old woman with more physical and emotional baggage than anyone can imagine. Her body accepting him and not changing only happens after he is fully accepting of who and what she is. She holds the power dynamic in every scene, and scares and horrifies him, but he’s devoted to her regardless. He thinks she’s a drug addict, but he accepts it. She is for all intents and purposes a monster, and he accepts it. She’s a murderer, and he accepts it. She’s a literal freak of nature and he accepts it after directly witnessing her transformation multiple times. And then she accepts him in return, because he’s the only one who has seen her true, terrifying self and still wants to be with her and wants her to accept him as a viable love interest. He’s not particularly special – that’s not why she stays with him. He’s a puppy-eyed devotee who might only be in love with her because of her monster pheromones, but he stuck with her when in her 2000 year past nobody else has, or at least hasn’t seen her true self without running or most likely trying to send an angry torch-and-pitchfork-wielding mob after her.

    She makes it clear that we won’t know for sure what happens after – does she stop? We saw a volcanic eruption ahead of a sunrise and she didn’t change, is that a sign? This is all new to her too, so we only know as far as she can guess, and for all she knows it’s supernatural but hoping it’s science. Regardless she’s still the far older and far wiser one with all the power in the relationship. She used him and then pushed him away. He’s not the hero coming to her rescue, he just happened to be okay with having a girlfriend who’s sometimes a zombie squid. So it’s not about gender politics, it’s a story about acceptance and loving someone despite flaws way beyond what anyone should reasonably accept as flaws. Maybe even to the point of folly. None of that is male fantasy, unless you watch the first act of the film and are determined to wedge that in so it colors the rest of the film for you, but you’d be wrong because you’re severely underestimating what she carries into the relationship, and so is he. She’s not the perfect woman. She’s a predator, and he’s the only prey in her time who has found out and seen her (literal) demons and
    stuck around. It’ll likely get him killed one day, and almost did several times. She’s the polar opposite of the young manic pixie dreamgirl trope – she’s an ancient depressive Lovecraftian nightmare.

    He’s vulnerable at the start, and he becomes more vulnerable as the story continues. He gets this ancient demon girl who might bite his head off one day. There’s even specifically a scene that addresses your point, where she accuses him of just wanting to nail the hot foreign girl and put a notch on his belt, and he proves her wrong by opening up his most intimate feelings about his family, because he wants to stay with her. Not much same-old typical brodude wish-fulfillment behavior there.

  • SaltHarvest

    What you see as love affects what you will convince you that an authentic relationship is taking place. If something is taking place that you do not perceive as guided by (some possible definition of) love, then you simply would not recognize it as such. It’s not a particular issue if the terms vary between movies since you can combine the criteria for a wider view and then sift later, if necessary.

    Shorter version: If it doesn’t fit your definition, you don’t see it, whether it’s there or not.

  • SaltHarvest

    To the first: Not being useful or helpful, as concerns your review.

  • SaltHarvest

    The comment being discussed involved people having common interests and meeting in places.

    You answered no to a question about that comment when clearly and obviously the script forces (almost a sine qua non of the romance genre) them to have at least a few common interests and to actually meet in a place. Nothing in any review suggests Spring deviated from convention in this aspect.

    I wouldn’t expect any two people meeting at a basketball game to automatically fall in love, either (Ha.)

  • SaltHarvest

    Sounds like the Hollywood version of rule 34 *retch*

  • She gives up immorality for a puppy.

    she’s an ancient depressive Lovecraftian nightmare.

    Which makes her infinitely more interesting than him.

  • And if you haven’t even seen the movie, you have no idea what is there at all.

  • For pity’s sake, if you had seen the film, you would know that they have no interests in common, and Evan ends up in this place through no volition or interest of his own.

  • Porst

    She doesn’t choose. They say the opposite multiple times. Based on what she says he may not have had a choice either.

    And “more interesting” doesn’t mean better. A serial killer is “more interesting” than an investment banker, but that doesn’t mean the serial killer is totally awesome or a better choice.

  • SaltHarvest

    I suspect that’s a lie, but I’ll leave it for now.

  • SaltHarvest

    I don’t know whether to laugh at that, or reach for a headache remedy. That is simply not true.

  • SaltHarvest

    Immortality*, *whistle*

  • She chooses to hang out with him. She could have not done that when she knew her regeneration was imminent. She choses to hang out with him until, as Evan says, “you fall in love with me.”

    And you’re missing my point about Louise. When I call her an interesting character, it doesn’t mean I think she’s a better person or anything like that. It means she’s a more interesting person to tell a story about. It means the potential for drama is more inherent in her life.

  • Now you’ve crossed a line. You’re accusing me of *lying*?!

  • I’m done with you.

  • SaltHarvest

    If the shoe fits… I see a number of posts contrary to that assertion, and what remains is a verification step, one that doesn’t seem necessary…

  • Danielm80

    If you want to make an actual argument, then make an actual argument and support it with evidence. “You are LYING! But I’ll leave it alone for now,” is not an argument. It’s trolling.

    None of your comments about this film qualifies as an actual argument, except for your post about “leverage,” which you quickly backed away from. Some of your comments are just word salad: “Reincarnation! 100 lovers! Think about it!”

    I’m assuming, for now, that you’re genuinely interested in talking about the film, rather than just posting provocative comments to get a laugh at our expense. This may not be a valid assumption.

    If you actually want to have a discussion, give us something to discuss. Cite evidence, instead of vaguely alluding to it. If you’re not willing to do that, then find something better to do, like going to see the movie.

  • Gregory Netterville

    You’re right… I question my asparations chasing a career in this business sometimes….

  • GenevaX

    The film isn’t a masterpiece by any stretch, but this criticism is sort of baffling to me. Maybe I personally don’t know how to evaluate the relative hotness of two conventionally hot Hollywood actors. But I certainly don’t see how having the female lead as the smarter one is a problem. If anything, this one goes out of its way to make its “smart” character convincingly smart, which is fairly rare in films. How often is the “hot” astronaut/epidemiologist/whatever disappointingly unconvincing? The very fact that you felt she was a believable brain makes this film more successful than a good many Hollywood efforts. The intellectual schlubbiness of the male character, if you want to call it that, seems pretty clearly to be a result of the fact that he dropped out of university (Berkeley, no less, which is not schlubby by any standard) to split his time between working at a dive bar and caring for his dying mother. I was sympathetic towards that narrative, particularly since the film establishes the difference in class between its two leads before it gets explicitly sci fi-ish.

    Anyway, the “everyman/everywoman” lead is standard in the horror/sci fi genre. The ordinary lead functions as the audience’s surrogate in the face of the extraordinary. That character’s main quality is usually his or her openness to Otherness. In that regard, this film was pretty conventional; the lead is genuinely interested in understanding a new trade, a new language and culture as demonstrated through his interactions with his boss, and his strange new girlfriend. There’s a crucial moment where he tries to help her rather than running away screaming blue murder, as most normal people would. I was fine with accepting him as “special” from that point on.

    I think smart feminist film criticism is immensely important, but this just feels terribly amateurish. I wish you’d actually reviewed the film rather than filtering it through an embarassingly simplified version of Women’s Studies 101. I took that course. It deserves better than this.

  • I certainly don’t see how having the female lead as the smarter one is a problem.

    You are willfully misreading my review if this is what you took from it.

  • Guest

    I think the critique goes into more detail than that, and perfectly grasped your issues with the heroine.. You are certainly not obligated to develop cogent responses to your critics, though, so carry on!

  • Here’s the beginning of a clue: The problem with the film isn’t that she’s “smart.”

  • Hank Graham

    Every time I think that maybe you’re a bit too extreme in your feminism, every time I think that maybe you’ve gotten too caught up with the things that bother you, every time I think that you’re getting over-sensitive I see some piece of crap like this which eloquently makes your point for you.

    I saw this for free, at a preview screening. I wanted my time back.

  • J P

    I hope this article was written to generate comments and nothing more. It makes no sense.

    Men and women are attracted to each other for various reasons and one cannot just list the qualities of the man and compare them to the woman’s qualities and determine if they are a match. I feel like we learn this around five years old?

    The male lead was a student at Berkeley (one of the most prestigious schools with the highest entrance standards in America…no less difficult than Harvard for those that don’t know any better), he left school to care for his dying mother and sat with her and loved her (shows character and a good heart), and he made the female lead laugh (maybe not funny to audience…but that doesn’t matter).

    I do not think the female lead is better looking — I believe the opposite is true. I think the female lead is constantly getting compliments about her “beauty” so one might believe she is more beautiful than she really is (which is average). But who cares?

    FYI Beautiful women fall for ugly men sometimes — it happens outside of the movies (take a look at Evangeline Lilly’s husband and tell me that doesn’t happen).

    Anyway, what’s this author’s obsession with comparing looks? Who cares? That’s how shallow people choose a mate. I feel like I should also point out that the female lead is a monster…oh yeah she turns into a disgusting ugly lethal monster and the male lead sees past all that ugliness.

    As for the female lead’s personality? What personality? She acts mysterious and plays hard to get. Did she have a good heart like the male lead? I didn’t see any heart at all. She showed no connection to anyone but herself. The only interesting thing about her is that she gives birth to herself. *Similar things like this actually happen in nature except the memories don’t stay. Most notable is a certain type of jellyfish that clones itself. I wouldn’t fall in love with a jellyfish just because it can do a really neat trick like give birth to itself…

    Maybe something like what the author describes happens too often in Hollywood movies but this isn’t one of those movies…if she didn’t reach a conclusion before pressing play maybe she would have realized that and written a real review.

  • amanohyo

    A summary of your argument:

    1) A bad match on paper might be a good match in other ways.
    2) The male protagonist is smart, kind, and funny.
    3) Anyway, the woman isn’t even that hot!
    4) But looks don’t matter!
    5) The woman turns into an ugly monster. (SPOILER ALERT)
    6) Anyway, the woman has no personality either!

    Numbers 2) through 6) undermine 1), but that’s somewhat beside the point. The crux of the review is that Louise is literally the most interesting “woman” in the world and should logically possess superhuman wisdom and experience. Does Evan demonstrate that he is someone who would draw the interest of such a being?

    If not, does the script at least make it clear how lucky and extraordinary such an unequal pairing is?

    I haven’t seen the movie, so I don’t know.

  • I hope this article was written to generate comments and nothing more. It makes no sense.

    Are you suggesting that I do not stand 100 percent behind what I write, and that it does not represent my honest response to the film in question?

    If so, you slander me.

  • J P

    Do you understand what slander is? I’m an attorney. Are you?

  • bronxbee

    ah, so you think she should sue you for “libel” is that it?

  • J P

    I think a person that doesn’t know the difference shouldn’t be making threats. And I think if she actually knew what slander or libel actually means she would realize how ridiculous a threat that was…

  • bronxbee

    in point of fact, MaryAnn did *not* threaten to sue you. i suggested that if she did, it would not be for slander but libel. but i think the better thing to do would to be just ban you for being a prick.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    I hope you’re a better lawyer than a film critic. Not a lot of hope, mind, but hope.

  • J P

    I didn’t critique the film (at all). I actually thought the movie had a lot of problems. I said I thought the author’s complaints were absurd and I pointed out a few reasons to support that conclusion. If you dispute anything I said then go ahead and point it out.

    I can see from your profile that you, the author, and bronxbee all know each other and talk online. It’s great that you guys are blindly supporting each other by insulting me but you’ve said nothing in support of her argument. Have you even seen the movie?

    I also have seen that you’ve had about 4,000 comments. That’s a lot of time spent on here don’t you think? I don’t spend my life writing comments so feel free to not respond to this…

  • J P

    One does not have to write “I threaten you” to make a threat. She said enough by accusing me of slander. Then you went ahead and interjected the word “sue” into the discussion (not me). Bringing up slander and/or a legal action was childish to say the least.

    She probably will ban me and I could care less. You, the author, and Dr. Rocketscience have called me names (like prick), implied I should be sued, that I should be banned, and that I’m bad at my profession. Not a single one of you has say anything meaningful about the points I made. You’re acting like cyber bullies and nothing more. Not a single argument. Likely because none of you watched the movie (just a guess) and you’re just coming to the aid of your friend.

  • I think a casual comment made in “print” online would qualify more as slander than libel. But no, I’m not an attorney.

  • Look: You accused me of behavior unprofessional for a film critic on the basis of nothing more than me disagreeing with you. Now you are cluttering up my comments thread with a bullshit (and presumably willful) misunderstanding of the nonlegal use of the word “slander.”

    Quit it.

  • J P

    You are not a professional film critic and this was not a review of the movie.

    I’ve seen your other “reviews” and all of them are a platform to complain about the portrayal of women in movies and are NOT reviews of any of the films.

    I would prefer it if you stopped generating content for genuine critic websites like Rotten Tomatoes. It’s not the place to further your personal agenda.
    You’ve filled the comments section in this article with one dismissive and rude comment after another and you accuse me of bullshit.

  • RogerBW

    You aren’t used to people with opinions that differ from yours, are you?
    Try talking to people outside your social bubble. You’ll have to grow up a bit, but I promise it’s worth it.

  • J P

    Another friend of the author resorting to calling me names and bullying. I’m not surprised. I can see that you are also one of the main comment contributors to the author’s other gender movie reviews.

    This isn’t about my difference of opinion…this is about someone using a movie review that I found on a legit website (RT) to further her own political/social agenda.

  • LaSargenta

    That “legit website” considers this critic a professional film reviewer. If you disagree with their choices, take it up with them.

  • J P

    Good point. Consider it done.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    I didn’t critique the film (at all). I actually thought the movie had a lot of problems.

    Yeah, that’s called critiquing.

    can see from your profile that you, the author, and bronxbee all know each other and talk online.

    Actually, no. I’ve never spoken to MaryAnn (she has a name, you know) outside of this website. I just comment here a lot. I think there’s maybe one or two other sites I’ve contributed more to. I think MaryAnn and bronxbee are friends IRL, so you’re batting about .500 on your detective work there.

    I’ve not seen the movie, but I’m also not supporting her interpretation. I’m just pointing out that you’re barging in here like a bit of a self-important clod.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    “Bullying”? My but aren’t you a delicate little flower?

  • I suggest that you find another critic more suited to your tastes. Please discontinue commenting here.

  • Let’s stop engaging with this guy.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    No problem whatsoever. I’ve even killfiled him, so I won’t be tempted even if he comes back.

  • You have to remember Louise might be super intelligent and beautiful, but she’s 20 after all. I don’t know any woman who isn’t embarrassed by the guys she dated at that age. Also, yes while she might be out of his league, she’s such an evolved being that all human males would be on the same level to her. Intellectually they’re all ants compared to her, so she probably couldn’t tell the difference between Evan and Einstein.

  • No, she’s not 20.

    SPOILER

    She’s 2000 years old.

    she probably couldn’t tell the difference between Evan and Einstein

    It would have been interesting for the film to touch on something like that, but it doesn’t.

  • leechap

    What kind of mortal male character would be a suitable match for the “thing” you find so attractive MaryAnne? Your shrill critique reminds me of the bra burning days. It could have been a nice girl and a suave, handsome male immortal “thing”, that would have played just as well. Is this your spin on everything? How annoying.

  • You are pulling this straight out of your ass, lady.
    Organic process is there or maybe you define in some other way. How about you give an actual example of this organic process and then we will talk.

  • Tell me where “organic process” is “there.”

    And don’t call me “lady.”

  • BigD

    “I know you’re joking, but they’re not analogous at all.”

    How not?

    An while we are at it, Twilight, Superman, Captain America, Spiderman, Hulk … hell, just about any superhero movie has some exotic male specimen saving the world to get a date with some dull girl.

    Where is your rage?

    But nevermind that, I think the problem is when you state how enraging this movie is because a guy accepts a girl for who she is. And she falls in love with him.

    For you to twist that into some feminist rage is just childish.

    Stop it.

  • Good work dodging my question. Why can’t you give me an actual example of what was wrong with the relationship?

    By the way you aren’t supposed to start a sentence with “and”.

    Later, dude.

  • chum

    You may be right but you’re also unpleasant

  • bronxbee

    oh, excellent non sequitur — you have earned bonus troll points.

  • It’s not my job to make you feel comfortable.

  • blumonde

    “she’s waaay out of his league” because she has 2000 years of knowledge. Evan did a fine job on his part of the movie.

  • AnotherDudeWhoHatesSociety

    This critic is enterily based on the subjective self of the one that has written this piece of Emotional Bullshit, I can read your soul with the shit you’ve written as reality.

  • AnotherDudeWhoHatesSociety

    And I wont even begin to write down my points on this issue cause you, little self-shaming sexist are to narrowminded to even begin to reason with what you’ve said and what you’ve whatched of the movie, specially if you critize it with so much emphasis, don’t give vague descriptions of what you hate and detailed descriptions of what you love, that makes you seem too childish for my simple male brain.

  • TryMe

    This critic is enterily based on the subjective self of the one that has written this piece of Emotional Bullshit, I can read your soul with the shit you’ve written as reality.

  • Didac

    Try to watch a movie without auto-suggesting yourself this much, my brain is bleeding, you missed out 3/4 of the movie, good luck finding true love

  • Let your Viewers read it

    This critic is enterily based on the subjective self of the one that has written this piece of Emotional Bullshit, I can read your soul with the shit you’ve written as reality.

  • Anonymous

    Olé, Bravo.

  • Guy Oliver

    I think the reviewer is being harsh. There are certainly many movies that follow this patriarchical trope, but I genuinely believe this is most certainly not one. Evan, although normal, is kind and likeable. He is honest and confident.

    His interactions with the two English travelers show his American-centric naivety but also his ability to laugh at himself. He certainly isn’t the most interesting person in the world, but he is genuine as a human being.

    Louise is looking for something ultimately like her mother had; love with a normal man. Having lived for 2000 years and accumulated vast amounts of knowledge and worldly experience, it makes sense that she would finally want to reconnect with her humanity through love of an entirely normal human being.

    Any sort of supposed intelligence or skill of a regular human would likely pale in comparison to her rendering the sorts of accomplishments that you or I might be impressed by relatively mundane. There are repeated allusions to him being a farmer and salt of the earth, which she herself alludes to on several occasions, without being patronising

    This review seems to be clutching at a patriarchal criticism as a default position, rather than watching the film for what it is, and examining the likely motivations of characters involved.

  • Maren Wendland

    As many of the other commenters I find the critique also pretty harsh. I really liked the film. I can understand why someone wonders that HE is the one for her after 2000 years , but for me the explanation is in there: at some point she says that everything is so easy with him. Her life clearly is not, it’s more than complicated, so for me it’ absolutely convincing that she might fall in love with him for his being at ease, down to earth and caring for her. For me it’s also convincing that she didn’t realize her feelings before, constantly saying that she’s not in love with him. You say, that all arguments why she might love him are simply not in the film. But it’s in the film that she constantly meets him and wants to meet him, that she likes being together with him and that she likes how easy everything is with him. The rest is certainly not explicit in there, but implicit, and for me it perfectly fits. The little doubts I had in mind at the end have been kind of dissolved by the ending itself and its simple moral: sometimes, the ordinary things (or people) can be the most special.

  • RogerBW

    I think my problem here is “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”. We’re being asked to believe that this super-knowledgeable woman falls in love with the guy to the extent that she’s prepared to give up a lot for him; well, in order to feel happy about that, we have to be convinced that that’s a reasonable thing for her to do. When that’s a generic rom-com, the heroine isn’t giving up a huge amount, and even then we demand some degree of chemistry between the leads, some reason to suppose that the bloke is really The One; in a case like this I think it’s reasonable to demand much more.

  • Maren Wendland

    Is it? Almost everything can be covered with the sentence “love is a funny thing” that’s not always understandable (in real life there are also these couples that somehow don’t seem to be a perfect match) and as I said, for me, the ordinary, implicit or maybe weak evidence is sufficient. But I can understand you. If I don’t feel emotionally attached enough to a film, I tend to question its logic, too. If I am, like with Spring, I tend to accept the story and only think about how the characters were implicitly moved to follow the plot. I love when there’s room for interpretation. A movie that explains everything is usually not interesting for me.

  • RogerBW

    Real life often makes for lousy stories.

  • As has been said in this thread numerous times, this is not real life — it’s a movie. Different rules apply.

  • Maren Wendland

    Hmm, for me, as with every piece of art, hardly any rules apply for movies. It’s simply about being convinced by the story or not. You are clearly not – I am for the reasons I gave.

  • Kat Dunn

    I think maybe… the point is that she’s lonely. she’s tired of being new and alone and unknown. She secretly wants to start a family and leave her immortal life behind. When you’ve been alive for 2000 years what could you possibly want for? The one thing you can’t have. But she’s scared. She’s scared of mortality, she’s scared of what someone would do if they discovered her, she’s scared of being in love. He sees all these things about her, eventually, and he stays with her regardless. That may be enough for her. That’s love. People break up every day over much simpler things than being an immortal monster lol. What I don’t get at the end is the smoking of Vesuvius. Was it purely symbolic of her cycle ending or was it coincidal? What will they do now that they are both on the run and pregnant and jobless..?

  • She secretly wants

    And that’s a big part of the problem: this cannot be kept secret. If this is the case, it’s pretty essential to the story. So why are her motives secret?

    I’ll tell you why: because the male writers don’t care about her as a character.

  • Marvin H

    Other than The Babadook, Spring is the best film I’ve seen in ages. Loved everything about it.

  • Is there something about it in particular that spoke to you?

  • Val Venturella

    You know what? Louise is every woman. And Evan is every man. Women are much, much more complex and multilayered than men, as a general rule. And everytime a woman chooses a man, she is taking a step down. Louise knows that, and so does Evan. That is why he falls in love and knows it, while she is trying to decide what to do. The film is a great metaphor. It is probably so enraging to you because it feels so true.

  • Danielm80

    Every time Arthur Miller went out with Marilyn Monroe, he complained that her deep intellectual insights made him feel inadequate.

  • And feminists are the ones who hate men?

  • Shawn Caudill

    You are very cynical with your he isn’t a rapist view. While I agree with you they could have done much if the movie was about her charecter, what you are failing to realize is that sometimes the road to love is paved with acceptance. He saw her writhing on the floor as a squid and didn’t bolt. Yes he char was boring but my guess of 6 years looked at me and said “would you love me if I turned into a squid”. My reply was as I ran out the door I’d wish you the best. Evan did not do what me and every other man would do in getting out as quick as possible.

    Love just happens. While I do find it improbable 2k years she never fell in love I don’t see it as impossible.

    So many of you are saying what it takes to love someone, but you can only speak for your self.

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