CLOSE – Review by Serena Seghedoni

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Not long after Lukas Dhont‘s Close has begun, the film’s central characters, thirteen-year-old best friends Léo (Eden Dambrine) and Rémi (Gustav De Waele) are hanging out with some classmates at school, and one of the girls sitting in front of them asks them if they’re a couple, giggling and exchanging knowing glances with her own BFF. Léo immediately replies that they aren’t, and the girl asks again. “I’m not being mean: it’s just a question,” she tells him, and he reiterates that they’re simply best friends. But the girl insists, pointing out that Léo and Rémi are so close that no other explanation would be possible. “What about you?,” replies Léo, pointing out that it’s not that different from the way the two girls behave when they’re together, but she still doesn’t understand.

That scene is a key moment in the film, not only because it marks the exact time when our protagonists’ relationship begins to change, but also because it offers us an accurate analysis of assumptions about masculinity that are still deeply-rooted in our society to this day. If two girls are affectionate towards one another, they are best friends, but if two boys are just as close, behaving in the exact same way, they must be a couple. Rémi and Léo are not allowed to show their emotions, be tender towards one another, or simply enjoy each other’s company: they’re supposed to adhere to a very specific ideal of masculinity that sees them play manly sports, be into girls, express themselves physically rather than emotionally, and preserve a cool, detached façade at all times. Continue reading…

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Serena Seghedoni (Archived contributor)

Serena Seghedoni is a film critic, a film studies graduate, and the Editor-in-Chief at Loud and Clear Reviews. She has written a dissertation on Joker and is currently interested in queer stories, films made by women, virtual reality, and the representation of mental health in film and TV.