BLOOM is a short film following the coming-of-age of four teenage girls. BLOOM follows Ruby, Sabrina, Rianne and Tracey as their summer comes to an end, marking an end to their youthful innocence. Entering Peckham’s tucked away Copeland Gallery I was excited by the idea of a film screening accompanied by an art exhibition, one showing a display of modern and contemporary art by visual artists from around the world. In the process of curating BLOOM, Jesse Gassongo-Alexsander (writer, director, and curator) sent his script out to a selection of women illustrators, painters and photographers to create work inspired by the story.
“It’s a physical mood board,” says Gassongo-Alexsander as he showed me the resulting artwork. The aim is for the exhibition to prepare the viewer for what they’re going to see in the film; to go on a journey of discovery, much like the girls in the film. Coming-of-age films tend to place emphasis on male deviants. In BLOOM, we are presented with a candid and humorous tale of four 15-year-old girls, reaching sexual and emotional maturity and the ensuing “grown up” decisions that they face. To achieve this nuanced depiction of the girl’s life Gassongo-Alexsander drew inspiration from listening to his younger sister’s conversations with her friends.
Still from BLOOM (L – R) Elizabeth Roberts, Lasharne Anderson, Georgia James, Candassaie Liburd. Reproduced with director’s permission
Visual flair is probably the films best asset, evoking a wistful sentiment and nostalgia. Cinematographer Luke Farley keeps his focus tight and shots appear dream-like. Seeing the girls ride their bicycles, run through the fields and choreograph dance routines evokes their youth and childlike nature, but is also a is reminder of one’s own youth. Gassongo-Alexsander references Celine Sciamma’s Girlhood and Noel Clarke’s Kidulthood as films that have influenced him in the production of BLOOM. While it joins the aforementioned in its account of post-puberty life, BLOOM takes a different approach to the ‘coming of age’ genre. Despite it being a short film, BLOOM shines light on impending adulthood or rather the transition between childhood and adulthood. It doesn’t present its main characters in gritty scenery. It’s bright – they have fun in the light, they lie about how the lost their virginity in the light and just as quickly as they formed the lie, they forget about it and go back to playing games with each other. Each character embodies the difficult and uncomfortable tensions of a girl torn between childhood and adulthood. In particular, Lasharne Anderson’s performance as Ruby was convincing and believable.
While I enjoyed the brief exploration into adolescence from the perspective of girls, I felt that it was too short. It’s difficult to critique a short film for being too short, but when the end credits began to roll, I was left wanting and expecting more. However, in response to this feeling, Gassongo-Alexsander says “it’s a reflective film, I think everyone is going to take something completely different from it. I think it says more about you than it does about them… When I made [BLOOM] it was never to say something, it was more for you to take something away.” Perhaps then, the elusiveness is all part of retelling our ‘coming of age’ stories.