Filmmaker Wim Wenders once famously said, “The camera is a weapon against the tragedy of things, against their disappearing.” By virtue of association, filmmaking can be seen as an act of preservation. All throughout This Spring (Au printemps tu verras), there is a constant reference to the passing of time, the importance of memories and the importance of remembering. This theme runs parallel to the main narrative of its protagonist’s coming out to his family, and it is just as important.
The protagonist of this candid, intimate documentary is director Nicolas Gerifaud, a young man who is transitioning from adolescence to adulthood. He has a close, loving relationship with his family and not only feels the need to finally share with them that he is gay – and that he has had a boyfriend he assumes they have been unaware of for the past number of years – but also the need to document this landmark event of his coming of age.
Early on, he also expresses this need via his narration over some of the opening shots. “I quickly understood that I was living an important moment,” he says. “So, I started to shoot it in order to remember. In order to catch the expression of a face just when I was saying what I had to say.” The faces he refers to here are those of his family, mainly those of his sister, his mother, his father and his grandmother. He films them in a close up – the most intimate of cinematic shots, as well as one that best represents the very essence of cinema – as he tells them he is gay.
While these are pivotal moments of This Spring (Au printemps tu verras), they are part of a more collective depiction of a happy domestic home and the tight knit bond the family members share with one another. In fact, This Spring (Au printemps tu verras) is a documentary with a universal message, but it also carries the charm of a home movie, which in the end is precisely what lends strength to its communicative power.
Film theorists have, in fact, long speculated that cinema is a nostalgic art form and that nostalgia is one of its greatest powers, as it sets in motion a series of subjective and interpretive relations to the works. By sharing footage of real, everyday conversations and such apparently mundane interludes as images of his family gathered around a table, having dinner while watching television, or sitting by the fireplace in the living room, or drinking wine and eating peanuts in the garden and so on, he opens up the doors to his private life and allows audiences access to memories of his life that he has documented.
It is these memories that evoke a sense of nostalgia – encouraged by the dreamy and picturesque setting of the French countryside in which most of the film takes place, complete with the constant soundtrack of chirping birds. This nostalgia in turn encourages not only identification with Gerifaud, but also opens up the possibility for a discussion on how homosexuality is viewed not only within a domestic context but how it is perceived by the outside world as a whole, how that perception has evolved over the years and how that discrimination manifests itself in the world to this very day.