The intense friendship between two thirteen-year old boys Leo and Remi suddenly gets disrupted. Struggling to understand what has happened, Léo approaches Sophie, Rémi’s mother. “Close” is a film about friendship and responsibility.

Close’ is the second film from the talented young Belgian filmmaker Lukas Dhont after 2018’s ‘Girl’, similarly focusing on the experiences of a young person coming to terms with who they are as a person. This one was Belgium’s nomination for ‘Best International Feature Film’ at this year’s Oscars and it made the final nominee list (to be determined on Sunday). It is a coming of age story about two teenage boys whose close relationship raises questions at their new school, ultimately causing issues with their friendship.

When we first meet Leo (Eden Dambrine) and Rémi (Gustav De Waele) they are inseparable, spending every waking minute together and regularly sharing a bedroom at Rémi’s parents house. Their friendship goes beyond that of a mere close friendship and there is a clear intimacy in their relationship, which is picked up on almost straight away when they start high school together. Whilst Rémi doesn’t say anything, Leo strongly denies they are more than friends and it is clear he is uncomfortable with the insinuation. To try and fit in, Leo purposely tries to make new friends and get involved in other activities that don’t include Rémi, and this causes the boys to become distant, exacerbated by an incident where playful wrestling quickly crosses the line into something more.

I’ll say little more about ‘Close’ to avoid giving too much of the plot away, but suffice to say this is a remarkably moving and touching drama about the difficulties of childhood, particularly for anyone questioning their own sexuality. I felt the writing was incredibly sharp, both in how well observed the interactions of young teenagers were, as well as in some of the conversations involving adults which really got to me. ‘Close’ is an excellent piece of European cinema with strong breakthrough performances from its two young leads, and I felt it packed a real punch. I doubt it wins on Sunday, but I hope it’s nomination ensures more people take the time to see it.

Rating: 4/5

Directed By: Lukas Dhont

Starring: Eden Dambrine, Gustav De Waele, Émilie Dequenne, Léa Drucker, Kevin Janssens, Igor van Dessel, Marc Weiss and Léon Bataille

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