The words of Lukas Dhont, director of Close, to the press on the sidelines of the screening of his film awarded at Cannes
We were lucky enough to attend the press screening of Closefilm signed by director Lukas Dhont, awarded with Special Grand Prix of the Jury in Cannes. The film will be released in Italian cinemas starting January 4, 2023, distributed by Lucky Red, and tells the story of the tender friendship between two young boys, Leo and Remy, which will turn into tragedy due to a shocking and unexpected event. Close was also nominated for four European Film Awards and confirmed the extraordinary talent of Lukas Dhont, who had already made a name for himself with his debut film, Girl, selected by Belgium to compete for the 2019 Oscars.
On the sidelines of the screening of the film, the filmmaker spoke about his film, analyzing some fundamental elements and various central meanings in his work. A chat that followed a simply beautiful film, able to tell a story with tact and elegance friendship story with a tragic flavor, triggering a whole series of very important reflections on today’s society.
Close: Lukas Dhont’s words to the press
The film, as mentioned, revolves around the friendship between Leo e Remy, two thirteen-year-old boys united by a very deep bond. The central theme of the film, as Dhont himself admitted, is precisely the conception one has of this link in relation to the concept of masculinity. The two protagonists find themselves in a crucial transitional age, they are abandoning childhood to approach the world of adults and are beginning to feel the weight of social expectations. An intimate and physical relationship like theirs is easily misrepresented and this triggers a very deep crisis.
The two actors and protagonists are simply extraordinary, Eden Dambrine e Gustav De Waele, as Remy and Leo, respectively. Lukas Dhont said that, to create the right chemistry, he spent a lot of time with the actors in an informal way, eating pancakes or organizing thematic evenings. In company, Lukas and the boys explored the characters and the reasons for what happens in the film, helping the two young actors to immerse themselves in the part even better. Being an active part of this process greatly intrigued the young actors and prompted them to understand what the film was and what meaning it wanted to assume. The director never let them try, but let them enter the role, leaving them free to express themselves. In general, Dhont said he pays close attention to what i have to say young and to believe a lot in their potential. The work done with Eden Dambrine and Gustav De Waele was exceptional, also because, as the director testified, the two managed to immerse themselves perfectly in the shoes of the characters, embodying and assuming many traits.
The way to tell the feelings
Narratively speaking, Close revolves aroundincommunicability of feelings. In the film there are many silences, many uncertainties and often the words leave room for gestures or speech cry. This difficulty in communicating one’s feelings is a very topical issue. The director said that, according to him, too often it happens that young people, when they experience a sensation for the first time, are then unable to express it. In the film we see him with fear, but it is a very common situation. Lukas Dhont also tried it, and precisely for this reason he wanted to explore this aspect, also to help young people in difficulty to talk about their problems.
In life we focus too little on inner language, boys are not taught how to express their feelings. Even today, when there is a lot of talk about mental health, there is little attention on emotional language. For so many years, and in some ways it still is so often, society has taught us to distance ourselves from emotions, to repress them. Especially in the case of males, where emotions are often associated with weakness and knowing how to control them with masculinity. Lukas Dhont has tried to destroy this stereotype, strongly bringing to the stage an intimate relationship, even a very physical one, between two young boys.
The future, on the other hand, belongs to young people, who, as Dhont admitted, are increasingly trying to dismantle and deconstruct patriarchal society and to break the patterns that represent it. The company is getting more fluid and this is good, but the director was keen to underline that Close is not a contingent story, but it has no time. This is a story that is not only related to puberty and the present day, but it is universal because we have all experienced a friendship disappointment. The dominant feeling is that a friendship disappointment should not be expressed as much as that of love, society pushes strongly towards sentimental and romantic relationships and gives less importance to other affectionate but still intimate relationships. But these are everyone’s stories and Lukas Dhont has condensed them perfectly in Close.
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