Tribeca 2024 Review: SHE LOVED BLOSSOMS MORE, Elegiac Paean to Loss and Memory

Editor, U.S. ; Dallas, Texas (@HatefulJosh)
Tribeca 2024 Review: SHE LOVED BLOSSOMS MORE, Elegiac Paean to Loss and Memory

An elegiac past seeks resurrection even though it has never really left in Yannis Veslemes’s (Norway) latest directorial feature, She Loved Blossoms More, premiering at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival.

Opening with a bit of a rambling dialogue over images of decrepit and decaying pseudo-scientific experiments, She Loved Blossoms More sets right in with a uniquely grungy aesthetic that immediately establishes a kind of wistful cum rueful tone. The initially unseen Logo (Dominic Pinon) narrates attempts at organic alchemy from a crumbling manse in Paris, while in Athens his three sons attempt a different kind of advanced scientific miracle.

Hedgehog (Panos Papadopoulos), Dummy (Julio Katsis), and Paris (Aris Balis) are determined to fabricate a time machine in order to bring their long dead mother back from the grave. Firmly entrenched in their family home with reminders of the lively existence they once led, these young men now languish in memory, utilizing this quest as a way to relive a past the way they remember it, though perhaps not exactly the way it was.

Having converted their mother’s wardrobe into a kind of Narnian time portal, they feed various livestock through the void in an attempt to create a passage through which their dear, departed mother can return to them to make it all okay again. Unfortunately for them – and their animal friends – the adventurers never return completely intact. An inside out pig finds itself buried beside their mother in the yard, while a poor chicken only halfway survives – the back half, in case you’re curious. This causes immense frustration, and then Samantha arrives.

Samantha (Sandra Abuelghanam Sarafanova) is Dummy’s new lady friend, a free spirit with a curiosity toward their work and an experimental streak of her own. Her presence throws the balance of the house off kilter, awakening lustful emotions in the boys that she is more than happy to entertain. Add a liberal helping of recreational drug use, and this already hazy tale of unexplored grief gets super psychedelic and downright weird.

On the surface, Veslemes’s story may be about the quest to bring back their mother, but She Loved Blossoms More is really a story of lament and the burden of nostalgia. Impeccably designed by Elena Vardava, every shot, location, and prop is meant to elicit the feeling that nothing in this house has changed since mother died. Perhaps it is the boys’ hope that this will help their mother pick right back up where she left off when they finally do bring her back. Though I suppose that’s the optimist in me, it’s probably more likely that their existence transitioned in an instant from vibrant to a still life with the car crash that took her from them, and the house is a reflection of their living putrefaction.

There is a sadness to She Loved Blossoms More that permeates even the film’s most absurd moments. From a very vulval talking flower that visits them in a drug addled haze, to the poor half-chicken that can’t seem to catch a break, to the eventual unhinged fate of poor Samantha who winds up caught between two realities, there is a sense that the past in past, and even moreso that the past they recall never really existed. It is a warning against romanticizing our own fondest memories and attempting to freeze them in amber, when they were evolving all the time – and not always in the way we remember them.

The tone and pace of She Loved Blossoms More is decidedly dirty arthouse, bringing to mind the last Greek films of Yorgos Lanthimos and more recently Stefan Lernous’s Hotel Poseidon. There’s a somewhat lugubrious pacing that complements the nostalgic tenor of the action, but it can feel a bit self-satisfied from time to time. However, for those viewers who are on its very particular wavelength, She Loved Blossoms More could be a soothing journey to a dark place within themselves, exploring the peripheral spaces just beyond memory, and that is worth the trip.

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Alexia KaltsikiAris BalisDominique PinonJulio Giorgos KatsisPanos PapadopoulosSandra Abuelghanam SarafanovaTribeca 2024Tribeca FestivalYannis Veslemes

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