Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway


Lukas Dhont (“Girl”) helms a thoughtful and compelling study of friendship in “Close.” This rich illustration of a teen friendship is emotive, direct and deliberate. It unfolds across the eye as an epic in miniature. Piercing with feeling, it is unflinchingly honest and doesn’t pull any punches.

Teens Leo (Eden Dambrine) and Remi (Gustav de Waele) are in the same class and they quickly become friends, sharing creative interests. As friends, the two frequently share physical spaces. Leo and Remi sleep while connected and snuggle together. They have sleepovers and share ideas of traveling with each other.

Soon the other classmates snicker about the two boys being lovers, especially the girls. Leo is affronted. Remi says nothing.

Later, Leo and Remi wrestle in a scene which boils with hostility, but also contains some repressed intimacy, angry kisses disguised as biting. Remi is shocked and pushes Leo away. Almost immediately, Leo distances himself by talking to other kids and plunging into extracurricular activities like hockey.

Remi is hurt to his core and in one jarring scene that rivals any film in recent years, he is overcome by sadness and attempts to attack Leo. Leo pushes him away in a definitive exit of friendship.

Remi attempts reconciliation, but Leo refuses. The boy immerses himself in hockey.

This film is near perfect and captures the strange sorcery that can create childhood intimacy and its biochemical connections, which may or may not have anything to do with sexuality.

Both Eden Dambrine and Gustav de Waele are terrific, as well as Lea Drucker and Emilie Duquenne as the mothers of Leo and Remi. The two boys portray a male friendship as is, with one boy being a mirror of the other.

Leo’s pensive glances as if looking at a spirit from far away are as poignant as Remi’s worrisome tics playing his oboe.

To its great credit, while the story does possess drama in force, it is never manipulative, giving the audience space to reflect and create their own causes, effects or motivations.

“Close” is surprisingly percussive and truthful and it is one of the most affecting films about friendship in recent years.

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