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Boyhood saga "Close" sparks empathy as young lives unravel


Starring Eden Dambrine, Gustav De Waele, Emili Dequenne, Léa Drucker, Kevin Janssens, Marc Weiss, Igor Van Dessel and Léon Bataille. Written by Lukas Dhont and Angelo Tijssens. Directed by Lukas Dhont. Now playing at TIFF Bell Lightbox. 105 minutes. PG

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (out of 4)

Peter Howell

Movie Critic

“Something happened.” These words cut through the happy noise of a school outing in the early going of Lukas Dhont’s compassionate drama, a boyhood saga set in rural Belgium. What follows changes multiple lives and also the movie, which is Oscar nominated for Best International Feature. “Close” focuses on lifelong pals Léo and Rémi, both 13, played with note-perfect sincerity by newcomers Eden Dambrine and Gustav De Waele. Léo and Rémi spend idyllic summer days in each other’s company: goofing around, riding their bicycles past fragrant fields and sleeping next to each other like puppies. The more outgoing Léo, who enjoys the teamwork of ice hockey, helps out on his family’s chrysanthemum farm. The quieter Rémi, a musician, spends much time playing the oboe. Then autumn arrives and Léo and Rémi are teased and bullied at school for their close bonds. It’s the start of young lives unravelling; our empathy soars. 🌓

(Originally published in the Toronto Star.)


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