There are plenty of breakup films to choose from, but you’d be hard pressed to find many that articulate the less dramatic, more common form of a relationship ending: the couple who have grown apart. Love Blooms (L’amour Debout), the second film by director Michaël Dacheux, begins with a hopeless, half hearted attempted to save a relationship, and from there, grapples with both parties as they try to build an adult life away from their first love. It’s the rare breakup film where the spectre of the relationship doesn’t hang over the characters’ lives as they try to move on – instead, the two characters quickly realise that they were using their coupledom as a safety net, to either avoid adult responsibilities or confronting the true complexities of their own emotions.
Love Blooms (L’amour Debout), which premiered in the Acid sidebar at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, is a lowkey drama that could be best described as a post-coming of age film. After their first love has died out with a whimper, we follow two characters who have to confront their adult lives on their own for the first time, and navigate a city where they have both moved in order to get a fresh start. Whatever leap of emotional faith led them to get together has fallen flat on its face, and they’re back to the start of their own coming of age narrative, rather than turning to a new chapter.
Paul Delbreil stars as Martin, a 25 year old whose two year relationship with Léa (Adèle Csech) has come to an unceremonious end after her move to Paris. He follows her to the city to try win her back, but it’s of no use, but decides to stay in order to pursue his dream of working in the film industry. He bumps into Tristan (Thibaut Destouches), an old school friend from Toulouse, who swiftly offers him a place to stay – and as they catch up, Martin finds himself confiding that despite being in love with a woman for two years, he’s still uncertain about his own sexuality. As Léa starts to date an older man (Pascal Cervo), Martin confronts the fact that his own plans to only ever fall in love with women may be getting thrown out of the window.
It might seem like damning with faint praise to state that one of the best attributes of Dacheux’ film is its modest nature, but this is definitely an asset when dealing with a breakup drama that could have easily lapsed into something altogether more melodramatic. The conversations between characters feel real and awkward; Delbreil’s entire body language during initial scenes where he tries to talk around his sexuality until the moment he can’t avoid it no more are keenly observed, believably underplaying a pivotal event in the character’s life.
Dacheux lingers on his characters after their conversations have finished, waiting for the small gestures that articulate what they are failing to – moments that he frequently finds more alluring than the dramatic moments themselves. After Martin’s first sex scene with another man appears to be underway, we cut straight to the uneasy aftermath, where he avoids conversation, his inability to articulate emotion compromised by the fact he’s very visibly struggling to hide his feelings. These are characters who we only observe during their moments of attempted maturity, trying to be the idealised versions of themselves, and acting different whenever they let themselves have a moment of happiness that existed outside their life plans and ambitions.
Love Blooms (L’amour Debout) is a charming, subtle breakup drama that deals with the fallout of a first relationship in a surprisingly restrained fashion.