A beautiful film about young love being thrown out the window.

When friendships can be destroyed with one fell swoop, it can bring on misery. Doesn’t matter the age-kids or adults. “The Banshees of Inisherin” expressed that comically and seriously, while “Close” takes it seriously, and they’re sincere in their characters’ human nature. There are reasons why certain friendships can’t last forever, but I’m not saying all friendships can’t last forever. I’m glad there are friendships that last a lifetime. I’m saying when movies have to represent the negativity, they can either take us deep into their worlds or they can whine over and over again.

“Close,” the Belgian opus from writer/director Lukas Dhont, doesn’t whine at all. It may not go deep into the narration, but it doesn’t need to use a lot of words. It’s mostly in the expressions and somber atmosphere.

The story focuses on two boys-both of whom are now teenagers-who could be in a romantic relationship, if they wanted to, but life has to take a dramatic turn for them. It all begins at school with some of the homophobic kids insulting their friendship, until one of them pushes the other way-up to his own depression and suicide.

Leo (Eden Dambrine) is the one who distances himself away from Remi (Gustav De Waele), who loses all the joy he had with Leo, and checks out early. Now, Leo is stuck the choice he made, and he couldn’t feel more remorseful.

This may have been made and set in a different country, but seeing their love and friendship in the beginning during summer vacation reminds me of the heart and authenticity of “Call Me By Your Name,” which was set in the 1980s. “Close” is set during the modern times, especially when their parents approve of their close friendship. They don’t overuse their dialogue, and they whisper whatever words they chose to say with a poignant tone.

The movie also uses Remi’s mother Sophie (Émilie Dequenne), who couldn’t figure out what led his son down this horrible path. And she also connects well with Leo. When he admits to her how he pushed Remi away, their final scene together brings tears to your eyes. If this were an American piece, it probably would have been angrier with the typical screaming, but as an international piece, it uses the emotions through their few words, hugging, and crying.

“The Banshees of Inisherin” has more truth and consequences to the broken friendship of Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson than “Close” does, but I’m not saying it has to be exactly like that film. I’m saying we may not completely understand the human nature of the choices Leo and Remi made within their school year. And the performances from Dambrine, De Waele, and Dequenne are universally excellent in their own ways of expressing their lives and how things turn out.

Dhont writes and directs these people with beauty and humanity, and he doesn’t resort to the most obvious cliches. Matter of fact, they are no cliches. Obviously, “The Old Way,” the Nicolas Cage western, failed to get that memo, decided to not care if its premise is original. When it comes to international pieces, you need to see and feel characters and their situations and their pains. You can either feel them through the comedy and pathos. “Close” is not a comedy; it’s full of pathos, and it expresses them somberly.

Rating: 3.5 out of 4.

Categories: Drama, Foreign

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