Wrenching Belgian drama has suicide, homophobia, swearing.
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Belgian director Lukas Dhont's Close is an intense drama about suicide and grief. The main characters, 13-year-old boys Leo (Eden Dambrine) and Remi (Gustav De Waele), are the targets of teasing and bullying at school for their close friendship. Classmates call them "f--gots" and joke that they're on their period and like having their butts smacked. The film promotes support for close, physically warm male relationships and an awareness of the potential harm of bullying among adolescents. Parents, teachers, and an older sibling are patient, attentive, and supportive of children who are dealing with complex emotions, including grief. Kids tussle, fight, and suffer injuries (including a broken arm) playing ice hockey. In the version with English subtitles, additional strong language includes "s--t," "pansies," "wimp," "fool," "fart," and "pee."
Emotionally heavy film with a compelling message about male friendship
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What's the Story?
Leo (Eden Dambrine) and Remi (Gustav De Waele) are best friends in CLOSE. Their summer is filled with innocent fun in the sun, make-believe games, and sleepovers. When fall comes and they start a new school, classmates notice their closeness, which includes physical affection, and start asking them whether they're a couple. The pair get teased by other boys for being "f--gots." The mocking bothers Leo more than it does Remi, and Leo starts distancing himself from his friend and trying to fit in with the other boys. This impacts Remi in deeper ways than Leo intends.
Is It Any Good?
This Belgian drama about childhood friendship, growing up, and the impact of social conditioning and peer pressure on boys is a beautifully shot and emotionally demanding film. Close marks director Dhont's follow-up to Girl, which centered a transgender dancer. This film has similar themes related to the acute challenges of identity formation and the social pressures that teenagers experience. It won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for the International Oscar in early 2023.
Close stands out for its beautiful cinematography and an orchestral score that, combined with star Dambrine's incredibly intuitive and sensitive performance, conveys more than the film's somewhat sparse dialogue. The family of one of the boys harvests flowers, so viewers watch as the seasons and sunlight change and flowers are slashed to the ground and then rise up again. The symbolism isn't particularly subtle, much like Leo's broken-and-then-healed arm, but it all works together to paint a vivid and emotionally charged coming-of-age story.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about how Leo deals with his grief in Close. Did his emotions feel realistic? Did he seem surprised by what happened? Were you?
What did you think of Remi's mom's response to Leo's confession? Did you understand her motivations?
The film takes place over the course of a year. How does the passing of seasons, and accompanying changes in weather and light, play a part in the story?
Talk about suicide and the way it's addressed in this movie. When is it important to talk about mental health, especially if you're worried about a friend or family member? What resources are available to help both kids and adults?
- In theaters: January 27, 2023
- Cast: Eden Dambrine, Gustav De Waele, Émilie Dequenne
- Director: Lukas Dhont
- Studio: A24
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Friendship
- Run time: 104 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: thematic material involving suicide and brief strong language
- Last updated: March 7, 2023
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