Front Row at the Movies by Shirrel Rhoades

5/5 (1)

The Belgian film “Close” offers a twist on Cain and Able – with a homophobic undertone.

Two 13-year-old boys, Léo and Rémi, are best friends. Really close. They even sleep in the same bed together at Rémi’s house. But when they start high school together, classmates taunt them over their close relationship.

This makes Léo uneasy and he begins to distance himself from Rémi, riding his bicycle with other boys, taking up sports, becoming one of the gang. This hurts Rémi. They fight.

We won’t tell you where this conflict leads, but it’s a sad story.

Director Lukas Dhont says the film was inspired by psychologist Niobe Way’s book, ”Deep Secrets: Boys’ Friendships and the Crisis of Connection,” which documents her study of intimacy among teenage boys.

Dhont describes “Close” as a study of friendship and the expectations of masculinity placed on boys.

“I think I always start from the heart. An experience, an expression that feels deeply, deeply personal to me,” Dhont says. “The struggle, for example, with a stereotype of how a young boy [is expected] to behave, I think is deeply personal for me. But then, I also try to look for everything that makes it a shared experience.

“We’ve all been in that place where a friendship has left us heartbroken, and a lot of the time it’s linked to a romantic relationship, but not always to friendship.”

Close premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, winning the Gran Prix. It is nominated as Best International film at this year’s Oscars.

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