Four years ago, then aged 27, Lukas Dhont left the Cannes Film Festival with the Camera d’or and the Queer Palm for Girl, his moving portrait of a transgender teenager, which won great critical acclaim. A masterstroke from the first attempt can prove to be paralyzing and the young Belgian director took the time for a long reflection for his next subject of observation. It is the reading of an American study, which has interviewed 150 young boys between the ages of 13 and 18 about their friendships, which will germinate Close in his mind. The director explains to us as follows: “At the age of 13, their testimonies are very beautiful, it’s full of tenderness, they express a lot of love for each other. This vocabulary is exotic because it’s very rare to read it when we talk about masculine. Then at 15, everything changes and they no longer dare to speak with the same language and the same purity of emotion. This vocabulary is disappearing.”To take the opposite view of a cinema that values love stories above all, Lukas Dhont decided to make a film about friendship, its importance but also its fragility, which would also be the occasion to think bigger and talk about masculinity and the weight of the norm. Inspired by the sublime Stand by Me by Rob Reiner or Little Men by Ira Sachs, he wanted to film “a broken heart in the context of friendship”.See also on KonbiniRiver Phoenix: portrait of a dark cinematic cometBy this short and hard-hitting title like Girl, Close also has a double meaning, both close and closed, like the friendship of Léo and Rémi, two inseparable 13-year-old teenagers, who share their games and their bed. Perceived as ambiguous by their new classmates, their tenderness will crumble and Léo, who can’t stand the insinuations, will do everything to get away from Rémi. Until the unthinkable. When we talk about female friendship on screen, sensitivity and pajama parties are commonplace. By filming two teenagers who share a bed without it being sexual, Lukas Dhont offers imagery that questions both Léo and Rémi’s comrades, but also the viewer. “Are you in a relationship?” whispered by the public but asked aloud by a student, without aggression or real mockery but rather a kind of ordinary homophobia due to the misunderstanding of their relationship, which, by butterfly effect, will be enough to trigger a drama. interiorFormally, this second feature breaks away from the first. In Girl, Lukas Dhont chose to film everything about his heroine’s journey and the “homemade” transformation of the body when the first effects of hormonal treatment are too late for the impatient teenager, without falling into voyeurism. In Close, through an elliptical narration, he will place himself on the side of restraint and will choose not to show any drama. Thus, Girl was a physical, carnal film, where Lara, an aspiring ballerina, a traumatic discipline for the body, sought to transform this same body to the point of mutilating it. In Close, conversely, the director films the interiority and intimacy of his young heroes, with the exception of the ice hockey scenes that Leo relentlessly practices to force himself to show off his virility and which contrast by their physicality — the one he no longer wants and can no longer have with Rémi — or even their violence. Eden Dambrine, who embodies Leo, is wonderful for exteriorizing simply by her gaze and her body language this inner world annihilated by this drama. Girl, the moving portrait of a transgender teenager, is available on ArteSi Dhont broke away from the thematic of the identity and sexual quest among adolescents to focus on friendship and the weight of guilt, we find however common intentions in these two films and a desire to talk about the brutality towards people outside the norm, but inflicted by themselves. “This self-harm is taboo and it is violent to talk about it. So I tried to talk about the violence without having to show it.” In Girl, Lara’s battle was more intimate than social since her condition as a transgender woman was accepted by her family, her doctors and her dance teachers. No frontal homophobia either in Close, just a soft and fusional friendship that the peers cannot manage to put in a box and boys in fight with themselves against their tenderness. “When I write my screenplays, I I want to be kind to all of my characters, to the protagonist and the antagonist. All the spectators who come to see my film know what a homophobic and heteronormative society they live in, so I didn’t want to seek conflict.” Dhont also likes to play with the sometimes lazy expectations of the spectators regarding his characters. In Girl, Lara’s mother is absent and it is her father, present, who accompanies his adolescent daughter with infinite benevolence in her transition. This time around, it’s the mothers who are front and center. Impeccably written and beautifully performed by Léa Drucker and Émilie Dequenne, they are strong, solid and role models of resilience as fathers crumble under the weight of sadness. . Accustomed to seeing older brothers who brutalize their younger brother in coming of age films, the viewer may be surprised to see that it is in the arms of his eldest that Leo finds the tenderness he lost at the same time. than his friend. “Boys are taught very early on to disconnect from others and from their inner world. Ultimately, this study of these young Americans showed me that what I had experienced as something personal as a young queer boy in the Flemish countryside was in fact more universal.” Painful and modest at the same time, Close was the saddest but above all the most beautiful film in the Cannes competition.