Tribeca 2024 Review: Yannis Veslemes’ “She Loved Blossoms More” Enters Another Realm

“At some point, I took a wrong turn,” Japan (Aris Balis) says, after his brother Hedgehog (Panos Papadopoulos) asks why he ended up sticking around in the ramshackle mansion they call home in “She Loved Blossoms More,” seemingly having all the opportunities in the world as a wunderkind scientist. Japan isn’t one to show emotion, but it becomes clear like Hedgehog and their other knucklehead brother Dummy (Julio Katsis) nothing would be more important than to bring rescue their late mother from the great beyond with experiments on small animals showing promise.

Although that premise may not be a novel one, director Yannis Veslemes isn’t one to beat a dead horse when the idea of revival is far more expansive than most would consider, with the trio setting up a closet connected to 1980s-era technology where they send in live animals to see if they can survive travel through time and space – the idea being that if you can send something to the edge of eternity, you can bring something back. In retrospect, the fact that the brothers never leave the compound suggest that Veslemes may not have had the biggest budget to work with, but the genre-defying drama compensates with big ideas and style to spare.

When Jean-Pierre Jeunet regular Dominique Pinon shows up to bring some normalcy, you know you’re in strange territory, but there is something to hang onto in the understanding that while Hedgehog, Japan and Dummy are conducting experiments, they have become guinea pigs to some extent as well, pent up and beholden to their determination to bring their mother back making them bound to go a little stir crazy. With their mother’s grave on the property, she is never far from their thoughts, but a reprieve would seem to come in the form of Samantha (Sandra Abuelghanam), a young woman Dummy picks up as he’s shopping for groceries and intoxicates at least Hedgehog and Dummy as much as the bottle of Blue Curacao she brings by. Veslemes and co-writer Dimitris Emmanouilidis resist the temptation to set up a sibling rivalry, instead making all involved mutually curious about one another, each with relatively inexplicable desires that bring them a bit closer when they know what it’s like to be misunderstood.

Still, messing with the natural order of things is bound to have consequences and beyond the decapitation of a chicken whose head lies in one dimension while the body still wanders around the brothers’ house upon one test going awry, the pleasure in “She Loved Blossoms More” is equal to just how wrong things become. While the brothers attempt to bring back their mother, Veslemes brings back the charm of practical effects-filled fantasias fashioned by Terry Gilliam, Jim Henson and early Tim Burton as if they were tasked with making a giallo, with moody lighting, evocative camera angles and inspired prosthetic work, residing in this alternately enchanting and murky enclave where ivy and Christmas lights fan out over the dead and dilapidated. Although the film conjures more thoughts of the future than nostalgia given its originality, the idea of being frozen in time suits a story in which loss paralyzes its central characters and when grief often expresses itself in unusual ways, that couldn’t be any more true here.

“She Loved Blossoms More” will screen again at Tribeca Festival at the AMC 19th St. East 6 on June 10th at 6:15 pm and June 12th at 8:45 pm.

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