Close movie review & film summary (2023)

And it’s here that the movie started to lose me even as I continued to admire its performances, direction, and overall sense of craft. 

I haven’t seen too many films about grief that so keenly capture that feeling right after a catastrophic loss where everyone close to the deceased is wandering around looking like they’ve just climbed out of a wrecked car, and spending inordinate amounts of time sitting and staring at nothing in particular. The “life goes on anyway” scenes are strong as well, especially the scenes of Léo growing close to the hockey players who become his friends even though their cruelty helped spark this catastrophe (this is an unhealthy thing that happens in life, unfortunately—sometimes the people who helped cause your grief are the ones who comfort you afterward). 

Even more affecting are scenes of Rémi’s mother Sophie seeming to be drawn to Léo, and he to her, in the aftermath—as if she’s realizing that he could be a son to her, a partial consolation for an irreplaceable loss, and her a mother to him. The horror and shock following the loss of a child isn’t something that popular art dares to examine close up with any regularity. Dead children are more often referred to in past tense or used as plot devices (the thing that isn’t talked about until characters finally talk about it). So it’s admirable, in a way, that “Close” decided to go where it went. 

But what does it find and show once it has gone there? That’s the question I have no good answer to. 

This is, when you get down to it, the story of a horrible thing that happened, that nobody who actually helped cause it can understand (or shows any sign of even wanting to understand), that no one in the dead boy’s immediate circle saw coming or could have prevented, and that smashes two families’ understanding of themselves to pieces. And it leaves poor Léo carrying around an unimaginable and (for him) mystifying burden: he feels like this is all his fault, even though it isn’t. The movie generates suspense by making us wonder when Léo is finally going to tell Sophie that (in his mind) he caused her loss. It finally happens in the last ten minutes of the story, and the dead boy’s family immediately leaves town, and the film ends with poor Léo looking into their now-empty house. 

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