“Close” by filmmaker Lukas Dhont: the fragility of friendship

“Close” from filmmaker Lukas Dhont: the fragility of friendship


Five years ago, the young Belgian filmmaker Lukas Dhont made a sensational entrance into the world of cinema by winning the Camera d'or at the Cannes Film Festival with his first feature film, < strong>Girl. One would have thought that this instant success would give him the impetus to direct a new film quickly. But in the end, the opposite happened.

“I lived the cliché of the director for whom the writing of a second film is accompanied by a lot of fear and questioning, confided the filmmaker of 31 years, in an interview granted to Journal by videoconference last December.

“So I went looking for YouTube clips to see if other directors had already spoken about this fear of directing a second film. I came across a video of Julia Ducournau talking about the fact that she had to mourn her first feature film (Grave) before writing Titane. It seemed logical to me, because writing and directing a film is generally a project that accompanies us for several years of our lives. It's normal to have to mourn before embarking on another project.”

Lukas Dhont

Lukas Dhont therefore decided to take his time before starting to look for the subject of his next film . However, the theme of male friendship quickly imposed itself. Its dramaClose, which hits theaters this weekend in Quebec after being nominated for the Oscar for best international film last week, tells the story of a close friendship between two 13-year-old boys, who breaks up as they enter adolescence. 

“One of the first words I put down on paper when I started thinking about my second film was 'friendship',” he recalls. However, it is a theme that was quite complex in my life. Because when I was young, I often rejected friends because I was afraid to experience an intimacy and a sensuality with them that was immediately perceived as something sexual. I always thought that this estrangement was linked to the fact that I grew up as a queer boy in the Flemish countryside. But it was ultimately more complex than that.”

Loss of tenderness

The filmmaker got many of the answers he had long been looking for when he read sociological research in which 150 boys were followed over a five-year period, between the ages of 13 and 18. 

“We could read there that at 13 years old, the boys spoke of their male friendships as if they were love stories, explains Lukas Dhont. They talked about it with tenderness and intimacy using the word “love” openly. But when they reached the age of 16 or 17, these same boys no longer talk about their friends in the same way. They no longer dare to express their emotions, their tenderness and their vulnerability. 

“When I read this, it opened my eyes and it moved me a lot because I understood that what I went through when I was that age had nothing to do with my experience as a queer boy. It was more related to the loss of tenderness that comes with puberty. I wanted to try to find a way to translate that into a film. 

Close Friday.