TCFF film fest coverage continues! We’ve got another double review courtesy of my friend Vince Caro – cinephile, videographer, musician, and artist.
Directed by: Lukas Dhont
Starring: Eden Dambrine, Gustav de Waele, Émilie Dequenne, Léa Drucker
Lukas Dhont’s second feature Close is this year’s Grand Prix winner at Cannes and it’s easy to see why. Best friends Léo and Rémi, both 13, form a close friendship that borders on intimacy. As they start a new year at school, their closeness is scrutinized by their classmates, and Léo (being teased as queer) begins to push Rémi away. As Léo becomes more distant, Rémi is heartbroken, not understanding the reason they had drifted apart. As a tragedy befalls the school and its community, Léo has to come to grips with what’s happened, to accept responsibility, and learn forgiveness.
In my recent trio of TCFF’s coming-of-age films, including Armageddon Time and Aftersun, Dhont’s Close hits us the hardest. With superb direction and unforgettable performances, especially by the young actors Dambrine and de Waele, the film’s depiction of adolescent relationships and trauma create a solid core for its heartfelt and deeply personal story. Frank van den Eeden’s gorgeous cinematography and Valentin Hadjadj’s music only add to the film’s melancholic beauty.
Close uses simple visual language rather than relying on busy dialogue. There is a minimal vibe to the film that honors its simplicity but still succeeds in hitting us with an emotional force that never quite lets up. Credit Dhont’s instincts here for its rawness and openness. We’ve been invited to observe this very personal story and it is undeniable.
Eden Dambrine is especially brilliant. He portrays Léo with great nuance, giving the film an engaging sense of realism and humanity. Supported by veterans Dequenne and Drucker, the performances are solid all around. With Close, Dhont has created a gripping film about innocence, friendship, and heartache – a worthy companion piece to Charlotte Wells’ Aftersun. Definitely one of TCFF’s best this year.
Directed by: Nick Richey
Starring: Dallas Dupree Young, Gerrison Machado, Mylen Bradford, Ali Richey
Inspired by director Richey’s adolescence, the film opens with 3 teenage boys gathered close in a phone booth dialing a number for phone sex. But this is not really what 1-800-HOT-NITE is about. NITE chronicles one evening in the lives of 3 young friends from dysfunctional families, with the main focus being Tommy (Young).
One night, Tommy experiences a police raid at his home. His family’s involvement with drug trafficking caused his father and stepmother’s arrest as well as his toddler brother being taken by the authorities. With the help of his friends, he escapes, and so begins a mini odyssey involving teen sirens at the pool, sketchy characters, and phone sex, sorta. But the center of the film focuses on Tommy coming to grips with his situation. It’s an eventful evening full of highs/lows and a trickle of violence.
Dupree is impressive in the main role of Tommy with an earnest performance. Machado and Bradford are fine as O’Neill and Steve (Tommy’s pals) as well as Ali Richey who plays Ava, the phone sex operator. The cinematography and editing are solid and provide a fast pace to move things along. The film though is a bit uneven in execution but for the most part, it has a few good moments to add to its strengths.
1-800-HOT-NITE is a decent (and at times clever) coming-of-age drama from Nick Richey. Fast-paced and entertaining, the film is able to rise above its very minor shortcomings to make it a worthwhile watch.
Stay tuned for more coverage of TCFF 2022!