Close (2022) – Review/ Summary (with Spoilers)

Male intimacy, and what western society is still adjusting to, makes “Close” a notable exploration of a loving friendship between two boys.


Community Rating: 84% (1 votes)

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Title Card for the movie Close (2022)

Male intimacy, and what western society is still adjusting to, makes “Close” a notable exploration of a loving friendship between two boys.

Director(s) Lukas Dhont
Screenplay By Lukas Dhont, Angelo Tijssens
Inspired By “Deep Secrets” by Niobe Way
Date Released (Film Festival – Newfest) 10/15/2022
Date Released (In Theaters) 11/1/2022
Genre(s) Drama, Youth, Non-English (French)
Duration 1 Hour 45 Minutes
Content Rating Rated PG-13
Noted Cast
Léo Eden Dambrine
Rémi Gustav de Waele

This content contains pertinent spoilers. Also, images and text in this post may contain affiliate links which, if a purchase is made from those sites, we may earn money or products from the company.

Film Summary

Leo and his best friend Rémi were like brothers for most of their summer, maybe their lives. They would sleep in the same bed together, cuddle, play, just everything two best friends would do. That is until the first day of a new school term, and one girl’s assumption they are a couple, paired with one of their classmates, a boy, calls Leo a f****t, leading Leo to distance himself from Remi.

In some ways, it seems like the usual progression of middle school. Two close friends splitting apart and finding other people and interests. However, Leo going back and forth between closeness and isolating himself from Remi causes havoc on Remi’s mental and emotional state. Thus leading to something drastic happening that haunts Leo.

Things To Note

Why Is “Close” Rated PG-13

  • Dialog: Use of derogatory words
  • Violence: In the form of play fighting and self-harm (not seen on screen)
  • Sexual Content: Not applicable
  • Miscellaneous: Parents drinking and smoking

Question(s) Left Unanswered

  1. While it is noted, if you read the press and news about this, Remi is a queer person, what signs of that were in the film? Not that every last queer character has to identify themselves, but considering the basis of the film was just about the intimacy between teenage boys, is Remi only queer because the writer says he is, or is there something actually in the script that makes it so?

Character Descriptions

Please Note: This character guide is not an exhaustive list of every cast member, and character descriptions may contain what can be considered spoilers.

Léo

Leo (Eden Dambrine) smiling and showing Remi a picture he drew of him
“Leo (Eden Dambrine) smiling and showing Remi a picture he drew of him,” Close, directed by Lukas Dhont, 2022, (A24)

Léo’s family owns flower fields, and he is the second son of his family, and from what it appears, Leo is well-loved and curious about life, sports, just everything. But, despite all of that, his closest friend is Rémi, who he play fights with, creates adventures with, and even eats at his house and shares a bed with sometimes.

Rémi

Remi (Gustav de Waele) smiling, laughing, at the picture Leo drew of him
“Remi (Gustav de Waele) smiling, laughing, at the picture Leo drew of him,” Close, directed by Lukas Dhont, 2022, (A24)

Remi has no siblings, but with Leo, he finds a brother who is his everything. Leo is even called his mother’s “Son of the heart” and one of Remi’s greatest champions when it comes to playing the Oboe. Because of this, they are notably close, and because of how close they are in private, Remi has no issue exhibiting the same in public.

Review


Community Rating: 84% (1 votes)


Our Rating: Mixed (Divisive)

Highlights

The Exploration Of Non-Sexual Male Intimacy & Society’s Reaction To It

We’re living in an age where queer acceptance is rising in most of the western world, and with that comes people coming out at earlier ages and finding communities that embrace them. But, as shown by Leo, the adjustment hasn’t led to total acceptance. Particularly when your own relationship with someone is questioned, and thus the topic is personal, vs. when it is someone else’s business.

“Close” tries to pursue how complicated that can make someone like Leo, who outright rejects the idea of him and Remi being a couple, can feel. For, before their schoolmates say anything, Leo was more than willing to cuddle Remi, hug him, put his head on his shoulder, or even soothe him by blowing on his face so Remi could sleep. All the ways that, in their cocoon, was nothing, a loving gesture for a friend rather than something based on feelings of romance.

Heck, it’s even established, via his older brother, it has long been normalized in Leo’s family that he needn’t only seek comfort or being consoled by his mother or strictly women. The men in his family could offer this as well. Hence you see why Leo provided that to Remi, for that was his example of brotherhood and love. But, while Leo isn’t averse to homosexuals and doesn’t begin bullying Remi or anything like that as he distances himself, you can tell that society spoiled their relationship.

Like Burt and Ernie, roommates some claim as gay, outsiders pushing their perception tainted something pure and innocent. Ultimately leaving you to wonder, can boys, eventually, men, have the same kind of intimacy women share when there seems to be the need to identify it as gay and not just a loving relationship? Potentially due to homophobia or an aversion to men who don’t strictly form emotional bonds with women, unless gay?

Low Points

How It Handles Remi

Remi is “Fridged” in the movie, meaning harmed, a sacrifice, for the sake of the lead character, Leo’s, growth. The problem with this is the movie goes downhill quickly once it shifts away from the complicated feelings of Leo navigating a world that doesn’t understand his friendship to focusing on him doing ice hockey. For as you watch Leo pursue what locally may be seen as the most masculine thing to do, alongside playing soccer, partly to drown out his emotions, the film begins to lose its hook.

In fact, as time passes, even as Leo eases into talking about his feelings, “Close” feels like it has overstayed its welcome. For what does it have to say without Remi and Leo’s friendship at the center? Honestly, it says nothing.

So to spend most of the film watching Leo avoid the topic of Remi, alongside the film barely, if ever, addressing Remi’s sexuality or why he did what he did, may leave you to question why this needed to be an hour and 45 minutes? For as much as you can understand Leo’s withdrawal of not only his friendship but also the emotional support was heartbreaking; there wasn’t enough development for Remi’s character to push what was the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back. Everything leans towards what Leo felt and experienced, with Remi ultimately being kindling to further Dambrine’s performance.

Title Card for the movie Close (2022)
Close (2022) – Review/ Summary (with Spoilers)
Overall
“Close” wastes the potential of exploring the complicated relationship boys can have with each other and leaves you with a dry tale of grief, longing, and guilt.
Highlights
The Exploration Of Non-Sexual Male Intimacy & Society’s Reaction To It
Disputable
How It Handles Remi
76

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4 Comments

  1. Are you kidding? A ‘side effect’ for queer acceptance is somehow the illusion of queer dynamics in a friendship that is inherently non-queer? I see a lot of unchecked homophobia (and out of pettiness, spelling errors) not only in you begging your own question in that straw man statement, but in your subtle implications about the film. It is precisely because the writer intended that the relationship here is a queer one because he is adding the burden of explaining it–if not to show just how easily a queer relationship can present as an innocent, non-queer friendship, then to quiet the masses that would argue otherwise.

    1. I’ll admit “side effect” is not the best term, but I do disagree with some of your comments. I cannot fathom why a close-knit relationship between two boys would be noted as a highlight if there was some desire to present a homophobic argument against young queer people finding themselves and finding what can be a life-saving community that embraces them. Yes, I tend to over-explain what happened, hence why we note there are spoilers for nearly every review. Also, I’ll admit, grammar and spelling, even with Grammarly, aren’t our strong suit.

      However, the intention behind our breaking down Leo’s relationships was not to quiet the masses or anything like that. Such grand plans might be the motive for someone else, but the only thing we wished to highlight, and applaud, was the depiction of such a close relationship between two boys that had a level of intimacy not often depicted in media focused on those of juvenile age. Now, based on your comment, it seems our execution was flawed, which is unfortunate. But “Close” is a very different kind of movie, and it means developing a different kind of muscle and thought process to talk about it in a way that can be respectful.

      It is our goal, as we continue to cover more media focused on the blues and the jovial experience of being queer, to not lean towards what can be assumed to be homophobic talking points, as I know all too well how easily a comment, whether it was intentional or not, can either plant a seed or trigger negative emotions.

      With all that said, thank you for the discourse, Matt.

  2. Why would Leo avoid Remi just because of bad influence?, and else can’t boys be close cuddle tho they don’t do gay stuff

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