Close Review- A Beautiful Friendship Until It’s Not

Love comes in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Sometimes it’s men and women, women and women, men and men, or boys and boys, or girls and girls. In the case of Close, a French Dutch production, two 13-year-old boys, Leo and Remi, who are very good friends get the label of boyfriends even though they aren’t. This relationship has a tragic end no one saw coming, even me.

Leo (Eden Dambrine) and Remi (Gustav De Weale) are two young boys who are as close as friends could be. They hang out together all the time. They go running in a nearby field and lay in the high yellow grass together. This seems a little too unusual for children of this age. Even their parents seem to like the fact that these two good-looking young boys like each other’s company this much. Once school starts things change between these two boys. Leo starts to play hockey and gets new friends and leaves Remi behind. This leads to a tragic conclusion in this relationship.

Lukas Dhont the director creates a beautiful atmosphere where the friendship between these two boys is championed like nothing else. He creates one of the most beautiful films I’ve seen all year until it takes a tragic turn. Children are traditionally very innocent and they are shown that on-screen most of the time. This film does just that as well. Until it starts getting dark and that is when it gets very real. The last act of the film is very hard to stomach.

Dhont shows the various aspects of this story from multiple points of view. From the parents who don’t understand what has happened between these two boys. Then there are the kids at the school who ask why the two boys are so close. Are they an item or aren’t they? One of them takes offense to this and starts distancing himself from the other boy. That’s when this story takes a dark turn. No one wants to see this happen to anybody. It kind of reminded me of my relationship with my brother. To some extent because we were very close.

Kids have a hard time trying to find themselves in a tough world. It’s not easy. I felt lost ad a child except when I was hanging out with my brother. We had a lot of similar interests like reading and watching television shows and movies. I found sports and coaching and started distancing myself from my twin brother. He had his friends and everything was fine. And he eventually found his life partner. And I went my own way as well. Things could have taken a dark turn for me though but thank God they didn’t. I found a new niche in life and the rest is history.

The acting in the film was very good and the two boys, especially Eden Dambrine shine in a story that could be misconceived by the writer. He doesn’t hold back his joy, his anger, or his emotions at all on numerous occasions where the various story beats need that from him. This couldn’t be an easy role to play for either boy in the film but Danbrine does a lot of the heavy lifting for the movie and the story with his revelatory performance. He will be one to watch in the future.

Close depicts something at first glance that would seem like a happy-go-lucky film about two young boys who are closer than friends should be. Even the parents notice how close they are. The director Dhont doesn’t hold back though. He gets very emotional performances from both boys, but especially Danbrine. Who carries the film with his ark? In an era of all kinds of love, this movie depicts a tragic side to a once beautiful friendship of two innocent boys. It’s not an easy watch but it’s worthwhile to see how various types of relationships can be perceived differently by people and others looking in on them. It’s a very beautiful film until it’s not.

3 ½ stars 

Dan Skip Allen

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