6th March 2023
Words: Christopher Richmond
The lives of Léo and Rémi, the two protagonists in the Oscar nominated Close, are irrevocably intertwined. The film takes place across a year in their lives in rural Belgium and studies the electrifying magnetism that binds them together, acted beautifully and bravely by Eden Dambrine and Gustav De Waele, who build a connection between them that is as beautifully tender as it is real. The supporting cast of adults that surrounds them is equally as convincing, with the pair’s mothers in particular communicating the gut-wrenching difficulty of raising teenagers, particularly ones who don’t quite fit.
This is a film about soulmates. It’s about the beauty of human connection. It deliberately shies away from confirming whether the insatiable bond shared between its central characters is romantic or, but the answer to that question is irrelevant. These two boys are soulmates regardless of whether their relationship is romantic. The bond between them could build mountains. It’s beautifully portrayed on screen, with their actions and their expressions and their physicality communicating the agonising electricity of their relationship. It’s also a film about homophobia. It clouds their friendship and wills the destruction of their unity. It’s the enemy of any male on male bonding, romantic or otherwise, and without it the course of the protagonist’s lives would have been drastically altered. It’s painful to think of the lives they could have led were it not for the meddling and interference of people fuelled purely with hate.
The film has a striking visual language, proudly showing the beauty of life and friendship in its opening scenes, with the central pair barely featuring on the screen without the other, but space is visually built between them as their relationship unravels. The colour is gradually bled from the film’s palette as the drama unfolds, the vibrance of youth slowly drifting away as the boys’ endure the pain that comes with finding one’s place in society.
Close is a moving fable of the devastating consequences that inevitability occur when society refuses to allow all of its members to thrive as their authentic selves. It’s a message that’s been told countless times before, and yet it will never not be relevant. Until we’re all free, none of us are, and the love and loss held within the confines of Close serves as an arresting reminder of the consequences of not allowing that love to thrive.