FIN FEST REVIEW: Heartbreaking Belgian film Close an emotional triumph

When you watch as many films as I do, you need to find a way to keep things interesting. When I sat down in the theatre for Close, I knew absolutely nothing about it.

Armed with only basic knowledge of the plot, I was fully taken in, and this film left me absolutely floored.

Belgium’s Oscar choice for the 2023 ceremony, it follows Léo and Rémi, who do everything together. But their bond becomes the focus of bullying and homophobic taunts during school hours.

A struggle occurs when one wishes for things to remain exactly the same, and another succumbs to peer pressure and pulls away. It’s a devastating film that I can’t do justice to without spoiling it.

Young actors Eden Dambrine and Gustav De Waele have an incredible chemistry. Their dialogue and scenes together are fabulous, but the true power is in everything their characters don’t say.

It’s amazing what subtleties and a few extra long pauses can do for a scene, and director Dhont isn’t afraid to let things linger into uncomfortable territory.

It was jointly awarded the Grand Prize of the Cannes Film Festival, and for good reason. It’s an affecting masterpiece that had the whole audience transfixed.

Close left tears running down my face multiple times, and I wasn’t alone. This quiet, sensitive portrayal of young male friendships marks a film devoid of easy outs and cliché plot beats.

This is an assured, graceful effort I won’t soon forget.

4.5/5 Stars

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