Kasey Lum’s short film Bloom is a wonderful metaphor for finding yourself after the anguish of a relationship ending. Indulging in just the right amount of surrealism, Jodi Balfour’s performance is superb leveling up an already great film.
Abandoned by her partner, Laurel (Jodi Balfour) stumbles through heartbreak and grows a strange connection to a house plant.
Laurel is going through the motions of getting over her breakup and is doing that natural thing where you neglect yourself (bar the cable strangulation, of course). She is lost in her own misery, small and alone. All there is is her and that damn plant.
Writer/director Kasey Lum is quite liberal with his use of surrealism throughout Bloom. Still, he expertly manages to keep the entire film grounded in a form of reality. There is enough ambiguity for the audience to take something entirely different from the person beside them. As Laurel plunges deeper into her sadness, Bloom becomes the most interesting. Is what is happening before us the truth? Has that simple plant really been able to take command of Laurel’s body and create this cosmic bond? Or is it more a metaphor for her growth and recovery from the breakup? Being broken down to almost nothing only to return better than ever?
You may have been there with a houseplant during a bad time in our lives or even with our house in general. Do we let the plant wither and die? Do we let the house go into disrepair or use them as a distraction to help us move on, like an emotional escape? Blurring the lines like Lum does, it brings a bit of intrigue to his film, but the story alone is not the only reason to watch Bloom.
Jodi Balfour is terrific here in what is effectively a one-woman show. Her character is run through the emotional mill, and her performance becomes quite the physical one by the end of the film, with you really believing that she is going through that experience. Throughout Bloom, she commands your attention, and even when the film veers to that surrealist tone, you buy her sadness and distress at the beginning as she tries to work out what and why she has been abandoned. As we watch her battle her way back onto her feet (at times quite literally), you want to cheer her on.
Bloom could have easily been a film that loses itself in its idea, to go on for a bit longer and be too indulgent in what that connection between Laurel and the house plant could result in. Lum, who also worked as an editor on his film, has a strong sense of how far to take the concept and, in doing so, gives us an excellent 11-minute short.
For more coverage of TIFF 2023 please check out our reviews below:
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