When he leaves the table, she reaches over and sucks upon his grenadine and lemonade through a thin straw until a raspberry flush begins flowing through her face, hinting at the idea that she may have actually tasted him.
This is just one of the tender-yet-awkward moments in Suzanne Lindon’s directorial and acting debut and coming-of-age film, Spring Blossom, where she plays opposite Arnaud Valois as a disenchanted teenager who begins a romantic but agamous affair with a much older actor she glimpses in her neighbourhood.
CELINE dress, tights, necklace and cuff.
French-born Lindon – still at school when she wrote the film and only 19 when she directed it, making her one of the youngest film-makers to be chosen for Cannes’s Special 2020 Official Selection – does not deny the autobiographical nature of the film. “This is what I am interested in when I work – when I write, direct and act – is how to take a personal story and make it into a fiction, because I think what is important when you make a film is to make it universal, so everybody can relate to it,” she says. “It’s not my diary. It started like that when I began to write. But now it’s really something I completely imagined, and I think it was easier to make, because it was less pressure because I just authorised myself to invent things, and I didn’t have the pressure to stick to reality.”
“It is really a movie about fantasy. With the dancing and... everything.”
“It’s really about how a young girl can imagine love, and how she discovers it, and how the discovery of love makes her discover who she really wants to be.”
Left: CELINE dress. Right: CELINE jacket and jeans.
Today, Lindon, now 23, is sitting cross-legged on her sofa in a vintage red t-shirt, full of electricity and a sensibility that men from another era would have referred to as coltish.
“It’s really hot right now, and it’s really not cool to be in Paris when it’s that hot,” she explains.
At this juncture, she says she has a couple of projects as an actor she is working on, but can’t share what they are. After a pause, her face lights up as she tells of a collaboration with French director and screenwriter Claire Denis. Denis, who notably was an assistant director to Wim Wenders on Paris, Texas and Wings of Desire, is the undisputed G.O.A.T of auteur cinema, bringing us the late-90s sensation Beau Travail, a film whose stylistic end dance scene no doubt had obvious impact on Lindon and generations of film-makers to come. “We are writing together her next film, so I am super excited about that, because I am a super fan,” she says, managing to sound humble and surprised at working with someone of such gravitas.
“She saw my film and she called me, and I was silently crying because she was over the phone. We got to know each other, we talked sometimes, we went to the movies. Later she called me to work with her and we became very close. She means a lot to me. But right from the start I felt that she would be important in my life." At this point Lindon lifts her arms above her head as if to cheer with glee. It is something she goes on to do throughout the conversation to punctuate her joy, and notably when recounting a meeting with another of her heroes – and one she holds an uncanny resemblance to – Patti Smith.
At the end of last year, Smith and the Paris-based Soundwalk Collective programmed a three-month multi-media exhibition called Evidence at Centre Pompidou, at which Lindon was invited to read René Daumal (one of her favourite authors). Blessing Paris with many of the New York rock icon’s photographs, texts and original works, it was after one of Smith’s performances that Lindon was asked to meet her.
Left: CELINE dress and necklace. Right: CELINE jacket, shirt, jeans and belt.
Left: CELINE dress and cuff. Right: CELINE top, jeans and necklace.
“I love her so much that I wasn’t sure that I wanted to meet her, because I was sure I would be a complete idiot in front of her. Even though I am a huge fan, I only discovered Just Kids last summer. And secretly as I was reading it, I was thinking that my dream in life was to one day play Patti Smith. And then I met her, and it was so moving because she was so nice to me.”
”We spoke to each other for just two minutes, but those two minutes are so important in my life. Because she is exactly the person I wanted her to be.”
“She is so not… you cannot be disappointed by who she is. She is even beyond what you can imagine. She is a true artist. She is the real deal; everything you expect her to be, but more.”
CELINE dress, necklace and cuff.
Lindon’s manifestation powers appear to be strong. In fact, it was after presenting her movie in San Sebastian while wearing a Celine suit that she met Hedi Slimane and joined what she refers to as the ‘Celine universe’, consequently starring in the creative director’s Winter 23/24 campaign.
“What I love about Hedi, more than being a great fashion designer – because obviously he is so talented as an artist and photographer – is that when I work with him, I always have that feeling that it’s a real collaboration, and that we are here to create images that are not going to be out of style. It’s very timeless, what he does, and that is what makes him so unique,” she says.
“I’ve never felt that they have tried to change me.”
She admires the way Slimane has long reached into culture and the depths of its sub-genres to connect on an emotional level, beyond fashion. “Recently he photographed Bob Dylan and Julian Casablancas. I am a huge fan of them (The Strokes), and my boyfriend is a huge fan of Bob Dylan. I was in love with Julian Casablancas when I was like, eight, and it was so cool to see that he’s inspired by these people.”
Left: CELINE top, jeans and necklace. Right: CELINE dress and necklace.
Left: CELINE dress and necklace. Right: CELINE dress, necklace and bracelet.
At this point, it’s impossible not to see why Slimane has chosen Lindon to join his troupe of Parisian-style muses – like Jane Birkin, whom he worked with across decades before, or Charlotte Gainsbourg, who shares a strong style sensibility with Lindon. After all, how many eight year-olds have you known that are into The Strokes?
Lindon laughs, “It is true! Teenagers were listening to them at the time, and I wanted to be super cool and had a t-shirt with The Strokes on it, not knowing who they were until someone asked me. And I started listening to them and fell in love with him (Casablancas).”
Perhaps her pedigree in cinema (her father, a Palme d’Or-winning actor, and her mother, also and actor) contributed to her early cultural sophistication, but she recollects her early film experiences as being those she discovered on her own and through her obsession, at just 10, with Meryl Streep. “I think the first movie I really discovered on my own and really loved was Kramer versus Kramer,” she says. “My life changed since that film, because I identified myself with the little child in the movie. It dealt with a topic on family, and what happened in my private life echoed this very emotional story. I think it’s the first memory of a film close to my heart.”
CELINE dress, necklace and bracelet.
Lindon’s directorial handwriting has been clearly and deeply influenced by French New Wave, and nowhere was this more celebrated than her choice to work with pianist and composer Vincent Delerm on Spring Blossom. “I had a very precise idea about what I wanted for the music of the film. I wanted this little piano melody that could express melancholy and also youth. A lot of films I love from the Nouvelle Vague have these little piano themes in them, and I wanted the music to be a direct reference to those films,” she says.
“I knew Vincent was a huge fan of Francois Truffaut and Eric Rohmer and I just decided to call him. I didn’t know him at all, and I said, ‘Okay, I did this film. Can I send you a link and can you please tell me what you feel about it, and if you like it, maybe you could do the music?’ And two hours after, he called me and said, ‘Okay, I have something and then played it and I was like ‘Yay’.”
There she goes again, hands in the air, much to be joyful about.
CELINE blazer, shirt, jeans, boots and bag.
PHOTOGRAPHY Samantha Hellmann
FASHION Charlotte Agnew
TALENT Suzanne Lindon
HAIR Rudy Marmet
MAKEUP Christophe Danchaud
HAIR ASSISTANT Mathilde Madeleine
PRODUCER Olivia Repaci