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‘Close,’ a Devastating Film About Young Queerness, Has Audiences Bawling in Cannes

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Close, the new film by Lukas Dhont after his immensely promising but somewhat callow (and controversial) debut, Girl, sees the Belgian director reach another level in his filmmaking, showcasing his immaculate direction of actors, extraordinary ear for naturalistic dialogue that seems to be caught on the fly, and, especially, a deep emotional acuity. Readers are advised to bear in mind that this reviewer saw and heard the vast majority of this film through a fog of helpless tears and over the sound of his own racking sobs.

It has become fashionable to say that the particular makes stories universal; that anybody can relate to anything. This may be true to a certain degree, but Close will speak most effectively to anybody who has had to hold in a truth about themselves; the pain of what is unspoken, and seemingly cannot be said, by the two young schoolboys at the heart of this movie, is devastating to anyone with personal experience of that. In other words, while only barely alluding to it, Dhont has made a film that comes at queerness from a radically new angle, one which is wholly innocent and unsexualized.

At the outset of the film, we are given to see a heart-stoppingly tender relationship between two young boys of eleven or twelve—one that seems to go beyond mere friendship, into the realm of brotherhood or symbiosis. These children, caught by Dhont in the course of haring........

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