If there ever was a film to make you want to hold your children tight it’s Close, directed and co-written by Lukas Dhont.

Shortlisted in the category of Best International Feature at the upcoming Oscars, Close tells the story of two best friends, Léo (Eden Dambrine) and Rémi (Gustav De Waele), who are teetering on the brink of adolescence.

They spend beautifully shot golden, giggling summer days together, playing games, running wild in the fields, and enjoying regular sleepovers. The boys are close, expressing easy physical warmth with each other, but it is an unusually intense friendship that is immediately picked up on and questioned by the students at their new secondary school, who tease them about being a couple with a curiosity that borders on bullying.

This teasing places a strain on their friendship, as they try to cope in their different ways with teen life, with Leo trying out new, more macho interests (football, ice hockey) and new friends. Rémi is increasingly pushed aside, and full of confusion and raw pain. I can still remember the hurt of being dumped by a close friend as a teenager! Then the unthinkable happens, and Léo is confronted with a whole new reality.

This is a coming of age tale of the most brutally moving kind. I sobbed in that cinema, with tears rolling down my face and dripping off my chin; afterwards I overheard a man admitting to a friend: “I was just a mess in there for a full half an hour”. The film captures universal vulnerabilities of adolescence, as well as the characters’ individual difficulties, and with a young teen son it hit particularly close to home.

Close is a emotionally intense tear-jerker that ought to come plastered in trigger warnings, but ultimately deserves the plaudits.

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  1. I particularly enjoy movies like this one. While they provide a sense of escape from daily life, they still remind you of how hardships make life more of a meaningful experience. This review made me want to watch the movie


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