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the most plausible contender yet for the 2022 Palme d’Or

On a bright day in Belgium, two 13-year-old boys stroll through a field of chrysanthemums, the rows of flowers blurring into ragged ribbons of purple, white and gold. The boys are called Léo (Eden Dambrine) and Rémi (Gustav De Waele) – Leo is the one with the short, Simba-like blond fringe – and they lose themselves in the game together and are hunted by an imaginary horde. The pair are not brothers, but share a quick fraternal bond – whose irreparable separation as the boys fully enter puberty is the subject of Lukas Dhont’s overwhelmingly sad and tender new film.

Premiered in Cannes as this year’s festival enters its final stages, Close is the most plausible contender for the Palme d’Or yet: a wonderfully subtle Belgian drama that packs a powerful emotional punch. 31-year-old Dhont, whose far more controversial feature debut Girl Here won the Caméra d’Or in 2018, has described the story as drawing from personal experience: Certainly every beat rings deadly true, thanks in no small part to the performances he has given his two young elicited from the main actors.

The effectiveness of almost every scene relies on the audience’s ability to read the boys’ unspoken thoughts on their faces, which often fill the frame in close-ups. In a typically beautiful early scene, Léo watches with obvious admiration as Rémi practices the oboe; When he later plays a solo at a school concert, the camera stays on Léo in the audience, who is visibly touched – by the music, yes, but also by pure affection and pride.

Pure is the word for their relationship — while they’re both male, it’s also prone to misunderstanding. On their first day of school, a group of girls in the cafeteria ask the boys if they are “together,” to which they are amazed. “Shall we hold hands?” Léo asks in response. “Are we making out?”

But the exchange plants a seed of uneasiness in Léo’s mind: random laughter on the playground suddenly feels sharp, and later the bullies’ taunts become homophobic. (The question of whether any of the boys are gay — or more likely to become gay — is simply not addressed: these are children.) Léo’s growing anxiety causes him to back off at a breakup pace like Dhont and his co-writer Angelo Tijssen are removing of a patch – gradual and tingling at first but progressing to an agonizing tear.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/films/0/close-review-plausible-contender-yet-2022-palme-dor/ the most plausible contender yet for the 2022 Palme d’Or

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