Shut Look: Lukas Dhont’s Coming of Age Drama Takes the Straightforward Means

Cannes: the second delicate function movie by Lukas Dhont is far much less problematic than “Lady”, however he nonetheless opts for exploitation at his personal expense.

13-year-old greatest pals Leo (Eden Dambrine) and Remi (Gustav De Waele) do not know it but, however it will likely be the right final summer time of their lives. This would be the final summer time the place they share the identical creativeness, love one another with out having to consider what which means, and run or cycle in every single place as quick as they’ll in order to not waste a minute.

The clock is popping. Even now, there are already hints that Leo – his cherubic face as clear as Caribbean ocean water – typically appears to be on the cusp of a deeper realization; after calming his good friend’s busy head to sleep at evening, Leo lies awake within the mattress they share and searches Remi’s face for clues to a puzzle that hasn’t introduced itself to him but.

When college begins, their classmates will make enjoyable of the boys as a result of they’re too close. Leo, who appears to be the extra intensely affectionate of the 2, can even be the one to push the opposite away. It is Leo who appears more and more afraid of the friendship that was his best pleasure – Leo pulling away from Remi after they lie on the grass throughout recess, and Leo beginning to play hockey with the opposite boys like he was attempting to skate. one thing else. For these causes and extra, it will likely be Leo that the film about these boys will proceed to observe after one thing occurs that may perpetually change his friendship with Remi.

“Shut” is the second function movie by the Belgian director Lucas Dhont, whose 2019 debut “Lady” — one other lucid, involving, and punctiliously watched coming-of-age drama — was understandably controversial each for its casting of a cisgender boy as a dancer in trans ballet and for the way its last moments weaponized the readability of the movie to a violent ending that borders on emotional pornography. Dhont’s monitoring avoids the primary drawback, however solely mitigates the second.

As soon as once more, a touching imaginative and prescient of adolescent id is upended by a sudden trauma so intense that it reverberates by each different scene within the movie (previous and future, alike); once more, this tones down the nuance of Dhont’s work to a level that means the filmmaker does not belief his personal present for rendering the best intimacies of rising up with 8K ultra-clarity. This time, nonetheless, the violence doesn’t anticipate the tip of the story. This time, he drops from the sky on the finish of the primary act, sacrificing a palpable (and already harrowing) portrait of male friendship within the face of heteronormativity on the altar of a a lot bigger sketch of loss. For a film that asks such tough questions and probes them with a crystal-clear honesty that American coming-of-age tales nearly by no means permit, it is onerous to shake the sensation that “Shut” is taking the simple method out.

It is all of the extra unlucky that the primary a part of this story is advised with spellbinding precision. The childhood romance Leo and Remi share collectively could be a bit an excessive amount of – bear in mind these completely happy boys operating collectively by Monet-worthy flowerbeds as Valentin Hadjadj’s lush picket rating blows by their hair like a late summer time breeze – however there isn’t any denying how nicely Dhont conveys the euphoric second of two 13-year-old greatest pals spending a free day collectively, or the impeccable naturalism of Dabrine and De Waele’s performances permits their director to gild the lily with out passing it off as plastic.

Tenderly – and with a uncommon grace made potential solely by absence – Dhont additionally traces the invisible boundaries younger males are conditioned to see between themselves and their closest male pals, the way in which frightened kids hunt down shadows that they’ll take for ghosts. The intimacy of the shared bond between Leo and Remi invitations the extraordinarily candy implication that the previous would possibly develop extra romantic emotions in the direction of the latter (whose personal emotions are tougher to research).

Even earlier than issues between the boys get considerably hostile, “Shut” is saturated with the overwhelming and unhappy concept that Leo is pushing Remi away as a preventative type of self-sacrifice; that this poor child is attempting to protect himself from the horrible thought that his love for Remi could be the very factor that threatens their sacred friendship – a thought that solely weighs heavier on Leo because the movie progresses.

Dhont’s cautious consideration to the house between our bodies (in addition to the shallow depth of subject that cinematographer Frank van den Eeden makes use of to separate and soften them) permits the movie to entry experiences particularly unusual to develop up in whereas reflecting bigger truths in regards to the distancing impact that male norms can impose on male friendships; about how youngsters usually drift aside because the candy intimacy they shared as kids hardens into one thing they discovered to maintain secret as younger adults.


The movie pivots on a airplane so uncooked and wealthy in ache that it feels prefer it’s occurring on to you. Led by Leo’s mom, Nathalie (Léa Drucker, phenomenal when wanted), the motion takes place on a faculty bus, and holds the sight of a looking out human face so lengthy you might have time to see behind it. Nathalie’s eyes and repair her harm. of conflicting emotions in a completed puzzle earlier than Dhont cuts. It is an unforgettably highly effective instance of the emotional translucency that Dhont wields like a double-edged sword, as every subsequent second within the movie brings the identical readability to scenes which might be a lot much less sharp of their stakes or intent.

That readability — that sense of psychology written on glass — leaves us with little to cope with in a movie that dilutes Leo’s angst with the identical tragedy that Dhont and Angelo Tijssens’ screenplay makes use of to reinforce it. Reasonably than spending the remainder of the film wrestling with a number of the trickiest emotions a 13-year-old can have, “Shut” crushes them underneath a ton of ache. Reasonably than pushing Leo to cope with the accountability he feels of pushing Remi away, as the primary a part of the movie suggests, “Shut” raises the stakes in a method that makes it nearly not possible for its hapless protagonist to do something. of great. feeling of his loss.

Left to his personal units, Leo drifts additional into heteronormative tradition by a collection of repetitive scenes through which he trains and performs on the college hockey staff (Dhont captures rising from rookie child to semi-competent proper defender and with the identical specific consideration bends the steel cage of Leo’s helmet into an actual jail). Elsewhere, Leo strikes up an uneasy friendship with Remi’s mom (Emilie Dequenne), who by no means ventures to surprising locations, and feels destined for overworked bathos even earlier than it turns into a wide ranging parade of symbolism. and unimaginable character decisions. A beat through which Remi’s mom turns into uncontrollably upset rings as false because the aforementioned college bus scene rings true.

As stunning as Dhont’s consideration to element will be, and very important as his willingness to discover the unbearably tender pockets of adolescence usually proves right here, “Shut” nonetheless finds its younger filmmaker delicate – if at occasions bordering on the sadism – who turns to common ache every time he fears that extra private emotions could also be too poignant and ethereal to see on digicam. Extraordinarily completed however nonetheless solely 31 years previous, Dhont should have a few of his development to do.

Class B-

“Shut” premiered in Competitors in 2022 walking sticks Movie competition. A24 will launch it in North America.

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