Close is a coming-of-age tale suffused with longing, aching and a grappling with understanding oneself. Dhont tenderly observes the blossoming friendship of Léo and Rémi – a carefree summer spent cycling and bathing in sunshine is set against the colourful backdrop of the flower farm in which Leo’s family works. Then we witness the two boys going to school and the inquisitiveness and goading which they get around their budding relationship. Kids can be cruel. This results in Léo seeking to distance himself from Rémi and, in a sense, be perceived as more ‘masculine’ in the eyes of fellow students. He joins the ice hockey team, banters about Mbappé, kicks ball in the schoolyard. He inches away from Rémi when he rests his head on his stomach on the grass. Their worlds are slowly diverging like the different paths they end up literally take on their cycle home. And then tragedy befalls.
Needless to say, the hammer blow is powerful and will shake you to your core. There are echoes of An Cailín Ciúin in its tender portrayal of childhood though this is less a slow burner, more emotionally gripping from the outset. Unsurprisingly, both are Oscar nominated as best foreign language feature. Dhont, along with cinematographer Frank van den Eeden, has created something really special in Close. Our hearts break in unison. There are no real culprits in this story. It’s a fragile understanding of life, a blossoming of being, the sensitivity of emotion. Close is a traumatic and heart-wrenching cinematic experience. Something everyone should experience.
words: Michael McDermott
Director: Lukas Dhont
Talent: Eden Dambrine, Gustav de Waele, Émilie Dequenne, Léa Drucker
Release Date: March 3