She Loved Blossoms More

She Loved Blossoms More (2024)

She Loved Blossoms More had its world première at Tribeca 2024, 9 June 2024

Yannis VeslemesShe Loved Blossoms More opens with an impressionistic montage. We see an elegant old Parisian house with statuary guarding its front door, a long-legged spider crawling across an old staticky television set, a reel-to-reel tape recorder on which Logo (Dominique Pinon) logs the failures of his experiments, basic animation (on the television screen) of a flower blooming and a tunnel, and finally a shot of Logo’s pet turtle Samantha first being shut into a valise, and then no longer being inside when the valise is reopened, as though she has vanished into a puff of smoke in a conjurer’s trick. “I remain optimistic about the future,” says Logo in voiceover. Yet everything about this strange prologue – the analogue equipment, the house’s classical exteriors, and its cluttered, messy interiors –  suggests that Logo is in fact stuck in the past. “Now,” Logo adds, over a shot of a snake preserved in a jar, “I just need to figure out how to bring my sweet Samantha back to life.”

If Logo has been focussed for the last two years on chimerical experiments in restoring the dead, so are his three adult sons. For, living in a similarly large, similarly chaotic house in Athens, Hedgehog (Panos Papadopoulos), Dummy (Julio Katsis) and Paris (Aris Balis) have been conducting their own science project, under remote instructions from Logo – except that, coming from the next generation, the brothers are pursuing their aims through the medium of modern computers and other digital devices. Like Logo, they are, at least for now, using pets as subjects for their experiments, with typically grotesque results evoking David Cronenberg’s The Fly (1986). For they have converted a beautiful old wardrobe into a portal – not unlike the one in C.S. Lewis’ Narnia chronicles – and hope to send various domestic animals through it to another dimension, and then ideally to bring them back again intact, although the latter part has been proving difficult. Yet when Dummy’s free-spirited new girlfriend, also called Samantha (Sandra Abuelghanam Sarafanova), moves in with the brothers and makes herself freely available to their longings and lusts, it seems inevitable that she too will be put through the portal, perhaps to be lost forever.

Loss pervades She Loved Blossoms More. The wardrobe, like Logo’s valise, once belonged to the boys’ mother Margarita (Alexia Kaltsiki) before she was killed in a car accident, and is now part of the house’s mementoes, hand-me-downs and general detritus that still connect them to her, like a ghostly umbilicus. Margarita’s body is also buried in their garden – and all these experiments are ultimately different steps towards bringing her back to life, and back to her family. Yet their project is failing. A pig comes back turned inside out. The bottom half of a chicken’s body returns, still very much alive, while the upper half (including the head) remains lost in another realm. And ‘Samantha 2’ – the human one – comes back in freakish hybrid form, no longer wholly herself, as monstrous intermediary between one plane of existence and another. The past, after all, is partial, and going back, while perhaps possible, can never be complete. Even the film’s poetic title She Loved Blossoms More is an incomplete quote which, when eventually cited in full, affords the boys’ mother a rather less idealised status.

There is talk of time machines and transdimensional travel, but She Loved Blossoms More is less science fiction than a family’s journey through collective grief and guilt. After all, Logo is not using technology but ‘magic’ for his trials with animals, while the three brothers are constantly on so many psychotropic drugs that it is unclear whether their ‘experiments’ ever go beyond the psychedelic and psychonautic. These are lost boys and lost souls, staging their sense of sorrow and disorientation within the confines of a house that still accommodates the property and perfume of their dead mother – and even after their equipment is destroyed, the amateurish experiment continues almost of its own accord, via a kind of ‘voodoo’ like a shared hallucination. Indeed the whole film has a lysergic feel, with its Bava-esque colours, hermetic setting and irrational psychosexual excursions. While particularly high on pharmaceuticals, Hedgehog is visited by his mother in the form of a decidedly yonic flower blooming over her grave which talks to him and throbs with illicit desire, as though to underscore that Hedgehog is headed into inner rather than outer space. This is a chemically exaggerated place where repressed emotions, if not buried bodies, can come out to play, letting a young Greek man entertain the Oedipal fantasies of fucking his mother and killing his father.

.Co-written with Dimitris Emmanouilidis, Veslemes’ film is a kaleidoscope of trippy visuals and mythic ideas, as this house and garden become the closed arena of these mamma’s boys’ confusions and conflicts. Pretty on the eye, and also pretty head-spinning, She Loved Blossoms More shows a family unable either to restore its Eden (complete with snake), or to move on from it, haunted by a past half-remembered, half-invented. There is nothing else quite like it.

strap: Yannis Veslemes’ lysergic sort-of sci-fi sends three Athenian brothers on a mythic, closeted trip into inner grief and guilt

© Anton Bitel