Close (Drama) (2022)
Director: Lukas Dhont
Writer: Lukas Dhont, Angelo Tijssens
Stars: Eden Dambrine, Gustav De Waele, Émilie Dequenne, Igor van Dessel
An intimate bond between two childhood friends is disrupted as their middle school experience affects their relationship adversely.
Made between Belgium, France and The Netherlands, Lukas Dhont's "Close" premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, an intense yet relatable queer-centred coming-of-age drama unlike most. Serving as the director's second film, his first being "Girl", also written with Angelo Tijssens. It's been produced by Menuet, Diaphana Films, Topkapi Films and Versus Production while distributed by Lumière and Diaphana Distribution.
As two childhood friends sharing an intimate bond enter school, the close bond is tested when classmates tease their unique connection. Affected by peer pressure, one pushes the other away, leading to a detrimental event changing the lives around them.
In society, oddities are much more common than normalities; is this since we like to observe ourselves as normal or simply a way of distancing ourselves from what appals us... Embrace the uniqueness of the world and disallow those negative observations to shine through. Live and let live, as the shockwaves of depreciation might have wide-ranging effects.
From harmless to hurtful—Dhont's French-spoken drama magnifies the effects of bullying. But, that's not all; as "Close" delivers an emotional response not often seen, the performances given by Dambrine and De Waele provide an intense reflection on society and treatment among youth.
Within a saturated genre, "Close" feels naturally relatable, a queer film that shows but doesn't tell. Innocence is defined through action, while ignorance is front and centre. It's smooth and rarely veers off in an unexpected direction, following Dambrine's Léo and De Waele's Rémi daily lives with countryside imagery from storybooks and a simultaneously bleak tale within.
There's little doubt about the story's effect, which is difficult to describe without giving anything away, but through the substance and execution, Dhont seems to have perfected his craft, and it's only his second film. His manner of storytelling shows respectful treatment of children, they can be seen as unintelligent, but within "Close", you see observational capability that is delivered impeccably.
Often it's most challenging to evaluate terrible and brilliant films, as opinion can seldomly be balanced in those cases. This film makes it nearly impossible to discuss plot details while keeping it spoiler-free. Luckily, the finest way to watch something is with little to no expectations; that's my secret. "Close" is an awe-inspiring feature allowing its audience to see through their own lens.