I was probably around the same age as the characters in Close when I first heard that phrase. It’s uttered by men who feel the need to reaffirm their heterosexuality after hugging another guy or complimenting him or showing any emotion. Our society has long been plagued by the idea that men should be stoic, unfeeling, and distant. Many scoff or are downright disgusted by the idea of men, gay or straight, showing tenderness and affection to one another.
Close is a coming-of-age tragedy about how the world’s very limited and regressive views on masculinity infiltrates and destroys the relationship between two young male friends. The tragic fallout of this friendship’s destruction reverberates through the lives of children and adults alike.
Childhood friends Leo (Eden Dambrine) and Remi (Gustav De Waele) are childhood friends on the cusp of young adulthood. Their friendship is full of love and joy as they run through fields of beautiful, blooming flowers. Their bond begins to unravel after they enter secondary school, and their classmates begin to notice their closeness. Girls teasingly imply that the boys are a couple, which confuses the innocent and naive Remi, but absolutely horrifies young Leo. Leo’s distance and reluctance to spend time with Remi culminates in a tragedy that no one could have anticipated or foreseen. Leo, and the adults around him, are left to make sense of everything that has happened and find a way to move forward.
Dambrine and Waele are two young stars on the rise. While the film will definitely be emotional taxing for the adults who watch it, kudos are in order for these young actors’ ability to portray such complex and emotional young characters. Their ability to communicate their confusion, pain, and anger through facial expressions and body language is astounding for such young actors. They communicate so much with what they’re not saying, and that’s an extraordinary ability that even adult actors struggle to master.
Dambrine’s character in particular spends so much of the film in communicating Leo’s struggle with nonverbals. There are many scenes in the film of Leo trying to cover up his ever-present unhappiness by working in the fields with his family or playing hockey with his peers, however, you get the sense that he’s a ticking time bomb waiting to explode. It’s both tragic and fascinating to behold.
Another standout performance Emilie Dequenne’s performance as Sophie. She’s a grieving mother whose entire existence is haunted at every turn. Whether she’s observing a school band performance or having dinner with family friends, her grief and misery is so palpable it’s breathtaking. Igor van Dessel, Lea Drucker, Kevin Jansseens, and Marc Weiss round out the rest of the cast.
The cinematography and sets are another standout of the film. There is a tragic brightness to the film that would make you believe it’s happy and lighthearted throughout. This becomes tragically ironic as the film goes on and it’s almost there to taunt the viewers and characters. The scenes of sunlit frolics through the flower fields are replaced with quiet and sad moments of regret in those same fields. The scene is lit the same, but the circumstances have drastically changed.
Close is an emotional, achingly tragic coming of age film about childhood’s end and the destruction of a friendship with devastating results.
Close is currently playing in select theaters courtesy of A24.
Close is an emotional, achingly tragic coming of age film about childhood's end and the destruction of a friendship with devastating results.
Writer. Video Essayist. Film/TV Critic. Pop Culture Enthusiast.
When he isn’t writing for Geek Vibes Nation or creating content for his YouTube channel, Tristian can be found typing away at the young adult novel he has been working on for three years.