“Close” First Look: Lukas Dhont returns to Cannes with boyhood drama

EXCLUSIVE: The film marks Dhont’s second Cannes appearance following his 2018 debut Girl.

Belgian filmmaker Lukas Dhont caused a stir at Cannes with his debut feature film, 2018’s transgender ballet drama Girl. The film received the coveted Camera d’Or award for Best Debut Film, along with the Queer Palm for Best LGBTQ Film and a host of other awards (and controversy). So, inevitably, expectations were high for his second film, Close, which premieres this week in the festival’s competition.

The film, which tells the story of two boys who develop a deep childhood friendship, was directed by Dhont from a screenplay he co-wrote with Angelo Tijssens. The main roles are played by 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 the two 13-year-old boys Leo and Remi is suddenly shattered. Struggling to understand what happened, Leo grows closer to Sophie, Remi’s mother. ‘Close’ is a film about friendship and responsibility.”

“As a child, I often refused to be intimate 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 about 100 boys between the ages of 13 and 18. At 13, she saw these boys describe their friendships as incredibly important to them. Their friends were the people they trusted, with whom they shared their secrets, with whom they loved. They weren’t afraid to express the love they felt for their friends. Then she interviewed them again when they were 15, 16, 17 and 18. And with many of them, she’s seen performance masculinity step in. The intimacy these boys had with each other was cut short. Suddenly, the story of my very personal experience seemed to snap into something much broader, much more universal.”

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

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

Close will premiere in competition at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival. It is currently seeking distribution in the US. Watch the first clip below, exclusively for IndieWire:

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