Belgium’s International Oscar submission, Close, tells the story of two young boys who enjoy an exceptionally close relationship. Their fondness manifests in a level of physical comfort which prompts classmates to ask whether they’re “together.” The line of questioning, and some homophobic teasing that follows, motivates one of the boys to push the other away and seek alternative friendships and involvement in ostensibly more masculine activities. The break leads to tragedy.
Close has gotten a lot of attention for its messages of acceptance and tolerance. These themes are certainly present and will be perceived especially by followers of director Lukas Dhont’s previous work (the somewhat controversial transgender drama Girl). But this film is actually more about grief. (Warning: the rest of this review contains plot spoilers.)