Like a canny teenager in a high school hallway, director Laurel Parmet’s camera effortlessly sizes up her lead duo, and it only takes two shots to tell us about the fundamental divide between Crystal and Amanda: while one shimmies a mini-skirt over her turquoise-laced underwear, the other sneakily palm-gobbles tater-tots. This friendship is about to be neatly dissected by the ever-encroaching border of hyper-sexualized maturity, but for now they’re playing hopscotch over it, twerking goofily to Sissy Nobby and collapsing into tot-chunk-launching giggle fits.
This brief and doomed dance of neither-nor comes crashing closed when Crystal commands Amanda to snap a couple sexy iPhone pics for her modelling portfolio. It turns out there’s more to the Amanda/Crystal time-bomb than meets the eye: not just the dismal reality facing every tween girl of having to be reborn in relation to her socially-constructed sex appeal, but also the furtive romance enchained and obscured in that rebirth, rich with the threat of hormonal wreckage.
Parmet captures all this in a few minutes’ time, and the depth of sentiment offered by SPRING is a superb case for brevity in the form. The way she skates Amanda queasily outside the social boundaries of youth, and her knack for stylizing the hyperreality of a recalled catastrophe, reminds me of Pippa Bianco’s great Share. Both films end with remarkably similar images: the face of a dazed heroine hanging in the foreground as sunset immolates the horizon. It’s a finale not of actual disaster but of gut-twisting uncertainty, a pause on the edge of a precipice yawning just beyond the end credits. (8 minutes)