Suzanne Lindon | The Sear of Unencumbered Tenderness

Featuring Celine, Via Issue 188, The Eternal Flame Issue!

Written by

Augustus Britton

Photographed by

Emmanuel Giraud

Styled by

Marie Cheiakh

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All clothing, jewelry, and accessories by CELINE.

Suzanne Lindon is a 23-year-old woman from Paris, France. A singular face, a singular mind. Her hair is dark and her spirit is bright. Her vision is clear: make the most impactful films possible. We speak a lot about youth and what it means. This makes sense, considering her debut film, which she wrote, directed, and acted in, entitled Spring Blossom (which screened at the 2020 Cannes Film Festival) was one directly linked to the subject, that of young love and young fantasy.

Lindon’s particular brand of maturity may be due to her upbringing in a deeply artistic household: her father is the actor, Vincent Lindon, and her mother is the actor, Sandrine Kiberlain. Yet, with Lindon’s lineage, she is clear that hard work is essential, that she will earn every accolade, every project, every set, every page in every script. Lindon’s current and future projects are compelling; a writing collaboration with Parisian icon, Claire Denis, plus a potential feature film about, yes, again, youth. Currently, she is a face of French fashion house, Celine.

All the while, one of the most important things for Lindon to cultivate in the process of her creations is presence. Born in the year of technology, that of Y2K, Lindon is keenly aware of putting her phone down, tapping in, getting real. She feels it is her generation’s responsibility, in a way, to shift the perspectives of life to one of awareness and reality, one of faith: faith in the goodness of people, faith in the goodness of tenderness, faith in the goodness of love. Here are the results of our conversation.

Spring Blossom has an abstract quality with the conceptualized dance scenes, yet it is also a very human and real love story. Can you speak about balancing abstraction and realism with this film?

The film is about a kind of forbidden love story, but more than forbidden, it’s complicated when you go through teenage years and you start to discover who you are. For me, I was super young when I was shooting the movie. I was 18, and I was living in the same feelings as the character in the film. And one day, I remember I realized how important fantasy is at that age. I thought I should include this notion of fantasy in the movie, which is how I got the idea to include dance scenes.

It is something that is surreal because it will never happen in life, but I really wanted the scenes to take the form of something familiar, yet also fantastical in the way that the characters are sensual and kissing or even making love. I wanted to translate those feelings into something more original, but also something that really belongs to them, and dancing was always something I’ve done in my life. It really helps me as an actor or director, or when I write a movie, and I’m locked in, and don’t have ideas. I know that I just dance for an hour in my apartment and things become really clear.

What music are you dancing to?

It could be anywhere between The Strokes or Vivaldi. But it’s less about the music and more about expression. Sometimes I dance without music—it’s just a way for me to express myself.

Spring Blossom is a love story between a girl and an older actor. Was that at all inspired by your father, in some way, with him being an actor, or seeing actors around him?

Weirdly, it has nothing to do with my father. Although, the father-daughter relationship in the movie echoes my relationship with my father, as we are really close to each other. But there is also a lot of modesty between us, because I think the relationship between a young girl and her dad is interesting—just like a young boy and their mom, because it is when you discover the weirdness of growing up. I like seeing tender relationships in movies. For instance, there is the film Running on Empty by Sidney Lumet with River Phoenix, and I’ve always loved the relationship with the parents because everything is so tender between them. So in Spring Blossom, it was inspired by my father, but the relationship between her and the man she falls in love with was inspired by my fantasy when I was 16 or 18, as opposed to something that happened to me. He more so symbolizes what a young girl dreams of to escape her routine.

Do you consider yourself an old soul?

Because of the fact that I was born in a family of artists, and also because I have a brother who speaks English and Italian, and because my parents work abroad, I was a kid who grew up with a lot of adults around. I think this really helped me to have more imagination and to be sometimes confronted with weird situations as a kid that helped me to grow up and become the person I wanted to become. I’ve always been listened to by adults and been able to talk with them, and it’s really nice to feel that you have a voice when you’re a child. I think this made me grow up faster than other kids.

And growing up around certain art does cultivate maturity in various realms; intellectually, emotionally, spiritually. 

It develops your taste and your perspective. The more you discover art in all its forms, the faster you grow. Because I read and because I watch movies, I think I was able to develop a passion very early in my life, and I think that saved me. I have a lot of friends who I think are not passionate about anything. And life is so sad when you don’t have anything that brings joy and impulse. I was lucky enough to discover that I was in love with movies when I was young, so I knew that I wanted to do something with this.

Coming from a family of successful artists, do you feel as if there is a responsibility in carrying that torch?

I think the only responsibility I have is to succeed and exist on my own. To be legitimate in doing this, making movies and acting is the most important thing for me. And although my parents are actors, I hope that if I succeed in making a film, people will see that it is because of talent and not because of my parents. And this is what matters the most for me. It’s why I decided to make my film because it was the only way I found to legitimately act just like my parents, but I also want to be taken seriously. And, of course, my parents are really talented, and I don’t want to embarrass them, but what matters the most is to make movies for the right reasons: because I really need to make movies.

Of course, lineage does not make an artist—it may help, but at the end of the day, anyone can be an artist if they want to be. Whether they are “good” or “bad” is another conversation entirely, but anyone can make art regardless of lineage.

I think the jealousy is understandable. I don’t know about other places, but in France, the movie industry is really difficult to approach when you don’t have any help. Of course, I have my family in the business, but I hope I have talent too. I can also understand people who think it’s unfair, because obviously it is a little. Yet, you still have to work a lot. You’re nothing without work. I don’t know if everybody understands that, but it is the truth. If I don’t do the work, I’m not going to be making a movie. But today, everything is so glamorous in the end. When you present your movie in the festival, we rarely talk about how complicated and hard it is to make projects happen. I think we should talk more about that when we present a movie, because it’s the truth of the industry, and the truth is not just wearing a beautiful dress and makeup and going to Cannes. 

Particularly with social media, it’s as if the red carpet has become more important than the actual movie. The red carpet exists because of the movie—the movie doesn’t exist because of the red carpet.

I so agree. It’s weird because I was born in 2000. I was born on the internet. I have this feeling that my generation is sick and tired of too many images and too much information that is not actually real. What’s real is art: films, books, music. But it takes time to make a movie, write a book, write a song, and I think to make these things you have to feed yourself with real life. I get scared of how social media fantasies slowly replace real life, but I also have faith in my generation. I think all my friends have this awareness of the time right now, where we have to focus on real things and work, and I think it is what is going to save everybody.

Back to responsibility: I think artists have the responsibility to speak about culture—where culture is and where it might be going?

When I was writing Spring Blossom, I made the distinct decision not to write scenes with cellphones. I didn’t want something that could evoke a special time. I wanted it to be timeless, as the topic is timeless. I wanted the images to be timeless too. I was sitting at my desk thinking, ‘Okay, I have to make a statement in this movie,’ and I avoided all the technological objects like phones and computers and chose to portray a youth without these. I’ve never experienced it in real life actually, life without these technologies. It is paradoxical because I am on social media, and I have a phone, and a computer, and I’m happy to have them because I’m writing on my computer and calling people I love with my phone—but I feel very lucky to be able to understand that what matters is real life. I make movies to get to know other people too, like when I am on set, I am never in my dressing room. I am never with my phone when I shoot a movie. I want to meet people in real life and be in the present moment. It’s really rare right now, and when you have the opportunity to meet someone you have to take it, because this is what is going to inspire you

Spring Blossom was actually released years ago now, so, I’m curious, how do you feel about growing alongside your art?

I was thinking about this the other day. I’m proud of the fact that I captured my youth, in a way, with this film. It was also a way for me to be able to move forward and now consider myself a young adult and not a teenager anymore. I think artistically this film helped me meet a lot of other filmmakers, and it helped me evolve into my life now. I started a collaboration with Claire Denis thanks to the fact that she saw this film. But although so much changed in my life after this film, I still have the same kind of artistic vision because what really matters to me is to stay really honest with who I am. I want to make movies in a very pure way, and I want to act in movies that I really care about, and I think this will never change about me. I have other interests now, because being a 15-year-old girl and being a 23-year-old woman is not the same when you have stories in mind. 

After all this youth talk, I am curious how you feel about the phrase ‘youth is wasted on the young’? I also think it’s a blessing to be able to drop into a clarity of what you want to say with your work, and it seems to me like you have that clarity.

I think because I grew up around adults, I realized how precious it is to be young. And that way I had a feeling that in the way I dress up, and the way I talk, and the topics that interest me, and because I’m very interested in youth, people always see me as this very young girl. But in another way, I have always been the one that was aware that I wasn’t young anymore, or I was always thinking about it, and although I’m a bit older, I am very aware of how great it is to be young. But in a way the awareness I had in my youth made me live a little less fully (or freely or blissfully ignorant) than the other girls or guys I was growing up next to. And, when you ask me if I’m an old soul, well, I don’t know if I am, but I definitely grew up like a misfit, in a way, next to the other children.

This interview was completed prior to the 2023 SAG-AFTRA strike. 

Photographed and Flaunt Film by Emmanuel Giraud

Styled by Marie Cheiakh

Written by Augustus Britton

Hair: Rudy Marmet at Call My Agent 

Makeup: Elodie Barrat at Call My Agent

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Suzanne Lindon, Flaunt Magazine, Issue 188, The Eternal Flame Issue, Celine, Augustus Britton, Emmanuel Giraud, Marie Cheiakh, Spring Blossom, People