Close: the sadness is palpable in Lukas Dhont’s delicate and superb drama, as it follows two 13-year-old best friends drifting apart as the cruelty, implied or overt, of their young peers come into play. That age is tough at the best of times, and the two protagonists, who were lucky to have each other, are the target of bigotry; the reaction is understandable but still heartbreaking. Cinematographer Frank van den Eeden follows the characters very closely, enhancing the sense of intimacy with them; it is a beautiful, sensitive work. Composer Valentin Hadjadj’s musical score greatly accentuates the emotions of the film. However, most of the heavy lifting truly comes from the acting: Eden Dambrine is pretty much in every scene of the film, and his mood swings are always apparent but never overplayed; Gustav De Waele plays the most sensitive of the two, and his, likewise, is a beautifully effective performance. Léa Drucker and Émilie Dequenne play their respective mothers, both understanding and loving, and they both make their big scenes work.
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