Lukas Dhont’s Close, fragile bonds at childhood’s end

Picture of the film CLOSE by Lukas DHONT © Kris Dewitte_Menuet

Winner of the Caméra d’or prize in 2018 for Girl, a sensitive film on trans identity carried by the virtuoso performance of 14-year-old Victor Polster (Best Actor Award, Un Certain Regard), Lukas Dhont presents us with Close, his second feature film, co-written, as was his first, with Angelo Tijssens. The Belgian director draws on his past to tell the story of these two 13-year-old boys: Eden Dambrine (Léo) and Gustave De Waele (Rémi) whose close friendship finds itself threatened by an extraordinary event.

The plot of Girl, taken from a true story discovered in a press clipping, was that of a transgender adolescent who was born a boy and who, through the discipline of dance, transformed her body to become a star dancer. Lukas Dhont dreamed of becoming a dancer before becoming a director, but that was the extent of the biographical inspiration for that film.

Experienced as a "confrontation with his past", his second feature film digs into intimate terrain by recounting the cracks in a close pre-adolescent friendship, which, to all appearances, seemed indestructible. As with Girl, Close talks of the "ideals that we carry", powerful ideals at the age the director examines. As powerful as the disappointment that can follow. From the initial meeting with one's alter ego to the anguish of loss, Lukas Dhont evokes with finesse what characterizes this kind of friendship, when everything is still possible.

Nature is omnipresent in this film, where the story unfolds over the seasons on a flower farm. Émilie Dequenne plays Sophie, Rémi's mother, and Léa Drucker plays the mother of his friend, Léo, in this journey to forgiveness, fragility and love at the end of childhood. Close is produced by Michiel Dhont, the director's brother.