I cried too throughout this film, but above all I felt angry. Lukas Dhont is an exceptionally good director, and he trod delicately over very sensitive subject matter. Eden Dambrine as Leo the thirteen-year-old has received well deserved praise for his acting, but then so should Gustav de Waele as Remi the youth who depends upon Leo's love, and yes let us call it by its name. Friendship there is as in all true loving but loving it is and due to crass homophobic remarks at school disaster strikes, and things are never the same again. Who was really responsible for the disaster? I think all of us as we are all afraid of this kind of loving and more often than not persecute it. Are we all murderers of the heart that has so many ways of feeling, so many forms that we wish harm upon even unconsciously? There is a stare at us from Leo and I will not spoil it for viewers when it comes. It is harsh, bitter and accusing, and despite its despair defiant. He looks at us the audience and even I winced away. This is a great film, and maybe I have overused this word too often, but from the depths of me I believe it ranks as one of the finest films I have ever seen. I must also mention Remi's mother played to nuanced perfection by Emilie Dequenne. A lot of very fine films come out of Belgium, but this one cuts to the bone of our communal responsibility in seeing love for what it is, and to refuse macho standards as seen by the sport thrusts that intercut various tender scenes. Homophobia in sport is commonplace, and there again it is another murdering ground for the sensitive and different. This is my opinion of this masterpiece, and I hope I have not misinterpreted Lukas Dhont's intentions. To sum up I have not seen a film about the tender birth of loving so delicately portrayed and acted with such burning grief and joy.
Leo and Remi are two thirteen-year-old best friends, whose seemingly unbreakable bond is suddenly, tragically torn apart. Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, Lukas Dhont's second film is an emotionally transformative and unforgettable portrait of the intersection of friendship and love, identity and independence, and heartbreak and healing.—A24
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