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Childhood relationships are lovely. Most of the time, we wish they would last forever since they are so pure and sweet. In that respect, Lukas Dhont’s close is similar.

Best friends Leo (Eden Dambrine) and Remi (Gustav De Waele) pretend to be soldiers in a war, run through flower fields, ride bicycles, and are content to be in each other’s company. Leo frequently stays over at Remi’s, limbs tangled together, and blows air in Remi’s face every time he has trouble falling asleep, so it would be an understatement to say that they are inseparable. Leo has developed a deep bond with Emilie Dequenne, Remi’s mother, who adopts him as her own son.

Despite the closeness and emotional connection the two 13-year-old boys have with one another, their close friendship does not last. The two enroll in the same school and are asked if they are a couple by a group of females on their first day. Leo hears homophobic remarks from his classmates as they notice him resting his head on Remi’s shoulder. Remi doesn’t seem to be concerned by the remarks, but Leo decides he needs to fit in and be accepted, which causes Remi to withdraw.

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The heartbreak begins at this point. The guys are experiencing new emotions and social pressures as they enter their early teens. Their friendship suffers as a result of the scrutiny and atmosphere of casual homophobia, as well as the subtle and overt enforcement of gender standards and expectations. As if this weren’t traumatic enough, Remi suffers a devastating reaction right in the middle of the film.

The focus of the film changes from sadness to the pangs of a friendship breakup after a significant tragedy. You can stop dabbing your tears with tissues at this point since they will just keep flowing. Our characters experience grief in waves, as it typically does in real life, but Leo has the worst time dealing with it. The emotional whirlwind he experiences within is difficult for him to comprehend, absorb, and express.

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Without a doubt, Closeis an investigation of male friendships in adolescence and how gender norms impact boys at that age who are undergoing mental, emotional, and physical transformations while also learning what society considers to be masculine. Leo would go to Remi’s concerts because of his musical talent, but when Leo started playing ice hockey, which is seen as more macho than music, he became upset when Remi showed up and supported him as girlfriends are frequently expected to do.

Like Leo, Dambrine is a shining star. Long gazes, looks, quiet moments, and unspoken words let him convey Leo’s jumble of feelings and thoughts. His acting is so heavily dependent on his facial expressions—or absence thereof during the darkest moments—that a script is practically unnecessary. Dequenne is as outstanding as Remi’s mother, but she really came into her own towards the end of the film.

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