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‘Close’ First Look: Lukas Dhont Returns to Cannes with Intimate Boyhood Drama

Exclusive: The film marks Dhont's second Cannes appearance after his 2018 debut "Girl."

"Close"

“Close”

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Belgian filmmaker Lukas Dhont made a splash at Cannes with his first feature, the 2018 transgender ballet drama “Girl.” The film picked up the coveted Camera d’Or award for best debut feature, along with the Queer Palm for best LGBTQ film and a number of other accolades (and controversy). So expectations were inevitably high for his second film, “Close,” which premieres in competition at the festival this week.

The film, which tells the story of two boys developing an intimate childhood friendship, was directed by Dhont from a script he wrote with Angelo Tijssens. It stars Eden Dambrine, Gustav De Waele, Emilie Dequenne, Léa Drucker, Kevin Janssens, Marc Weiss, Igor Van Dessel, and Léon Bataille.

The official synopsis for “Close” reads: “The intense friendship between two 13-year-old boys Leo and Remi suddenly gets disrupted. Struggling to understand what has happened, Leo approaches Sophie, Remi’s mother. ‘Close’ is a film about friendship and responsibility.”

“As a kid, I often denied myself an intimate relationship with another boy, because I feared that relationship,” Dhont said in a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter. “I read research by an American psychologist who followed around 100 boys between the ages of 13 and 18. At 13, she saw how those boys describe their friendships as being incredibly important to them. Their friends were the people they trusted, who they shared their secrets with, who they loved. They weren’t afraid to express the love they felt for their friends. Then she re-interviewed them at 15, 16, 17 and 18. And with a lot of them, she saw how performance masculinity intervened. The intimacy those boys had with each other was interrupted. All of a sudden, the story of my very personal experience seemed to click into something much broader, much more universal.”

That research convinced Dhont that the subject of childhood friendships was serious enough to inspire his next film.

“I understood I wanted to make a film about the impacts of friendship,” he said. “I think a lot of time in film, we focus on romantic relationships, but for so many of us, friendships define who we are.”

“Close” is set to premiere in competition at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival. It is currently seeking U.S. distribution. Watch the first clip, an IndieWire exclusive, below: 

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