In a Culture That Questions Male Friendship, ‘Close’ is a Cautionary Tale - Hope 103.2

In a Culture That Questions Male Friendship, ‘Close’ is a Cautionary Tale

Humanity is designed for human connection. We should be slow to define these connections and allow boys to be friends, writes Russ Matthews.

By Russell MatthewsMonday 10 Apr 2023MoviesReading Time: 3 minutes

As the awards season closes, many international films which received recognition are getting their moment in the spotlight.

Belgian director Lukas Dhont’s coming-of-age tale takes audiences into the modern world of male friendship and how rumours can ruin the lives of families.

Thirteen-year-old friends, Léo (Eden Dambrine) and Rémi (Gustav de Waele), have lived in a rural community, and the boys are inseparable.

The pair would play games in the fields around their homes and their parents, in many ways, saw them as brothers.

Each would sleep most nights at the other’s house, with no sexual overtones.

During the summer before they head to high school, the boys grow closer.

They enjoy their unique connection until the realities of life turn up.

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Gossip about their relationship instigates a rift between the boys, causing emotional turmoil for both of them.

This escalates to a tragic incident that rips painful wounds in each family.

They and the local community may never heal.

What makes this film compelling and gut-wrenching can be attributed to the performances of Dambrine and de Waele.

These boys capture the transition from innocence to unwanted pre-adulthood in their actions and well-timed gazes.

Each conveys a range of emotions which would be enviable to most adult actors.

They also capture the heartbreak of innocence lost with minimal dialogue.

Émilie Dequenne delivers a beautifully melancholic interpretation of the grieving mother trying to reconcile what has happened to her son.

However, director Dhont has to be given credit for guiding the outstanding acting from his youngest stars, who bring this film to a devastating conclusion.

This cautionary tale has a ripple effect that shines a light on our global community.

Close invites us to consider from multiple aspects what it presents.

There is the unfortunate factor of how male friendship has been jeopardised, as boys cannot maintain close relationships without being unfiarly labelled.

Also, Close shows how critical is a parents’ role in the lives of their children, particularly as they get into their teens.

The value of having conversations about relationships and sexuality is presented on-screen.

For all who can attest to the viscous nature of the school playground, Close shows how important it is for mothers and fathers to talk with their children despite the potential pushback that might ensue.

Reel Dialogue: Male friendship

“A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” – Proverbs 18:24

In this modern era, the discussion of male friendship has been under threat.

The thing that should be celebrated in this film is that boys can be friends. Yet, it shows how easily people try to label these friendships instead of allowing them to flourish.

While there are no sexual undertones between the boys, our modern ideals automatically make their connection into something it is not.

All the while, these two young men should be allowed to be friends who hang out, laugh and challenge each other to create.

The true tragedy of this storyline goes beyond this one relationship, since it needs to be a warning to us all.

Humanity is designed for human connection and friendship.

We should be slow to define these connections and allow these innocent boys to just be friends.


Article supplied with thanks to City Bible Forum.

About the author: Russ Matthews is a film critic at City Bible Forum and Reel Dialogue. He has a passion for film and sparking spiritual conversations.

Feature image: Movie stills