‘Close’ is moving and emotional, but plays upon queer trauma, says critic

Written by Danielle Chiriguayo and Amy Ta, produced by Robin Estrin

Oscar nominee “Close” is about two teen boys whose friendship is questioned. Credit: YouTube.

KCRW gets reviews for the latest releases from Alonso Duralde and Dave White, film critics for The Wrap and hosts of the podcast Linoleum Knife. 


This Oscar-nominated film is an intimate portrait of a friendship between two teenage boys whose relationship is questioned. It changes how they behave with each other. 

Duralde: “This is a film that's about a very real topic. I think there is a real issue in Western culture about how we don't let boys touch each other's shoulders. The only context in which the boys are allowed physical intimacy is if they're tackling somebody, and that leads to messed up adult men. And this movie, I think, is trying to dig into that from within. And it's beautifully crafted. … But I think that ultimately, it is a movie that plays upon queer trauma in a way that I just feel like in 2023, we should be finding other ways to tell these stories.”

White: “The history of cinema is one in which queer characters often come to no good end. And so we've had 50 years of a growing emergence of queer voices telling queer stories. Well, here's one. Lukas Dhont is a queer filmmaker and so he has every right to tell a story where tragedy occurs. But queer audiences have also the right to sit it out. 

... It's very moving and very emotional. But it's also very upsetting. And so, know who you are before you watch this film, this very well-made film, because it might not be something you want to deal with.”

“Infinity Pool”

This horror film from Brandon Cronenberg follows a couple at a luxury resort, where things take a dark turn. It stars Alexander Skarsgård and Mia Goth.

White: “This film thrives on violent and sexual imagery that might make some audiences recoil. There are many murders and orgies and they become the mechanics of the plot itself. … There's a deepening level of … depravity in this film that seems to serve no purpose, other than to focus on this one man who is losing himself to madness. And I wonder what the point is.”

Duralde: “I found this really, really tedious. … As bizarre and grotesque as the imagery got, I never reacted to it because I didn't care about the characters. I didn't care about the situation. Cronenberg's main ethos as a director seems to be “am I freaking you out yet?” And ultimately, for all of its NC-17 outrageousness, we're left with a movie that to me feels a lot like one of those 70s horror movies where somebody accidentally falls in with a group of rich Satanists or something.” 

“The Man in the Basement” 

Taking home the top prize at the U.K. Jewish Film Festival, this is about a Jewish family who sells their basement to a Holocaust denier.  

Duralde: “It's about the insidious way that these ideas in the marketplace begin to infect the marketplace. And so if we're going to talk about history, and we're going to talk about actual events, and we're going to let in the people who have these crackpot theories about the Holocaust, or people who have crackpot theories about COVID-19 or whatever else, they don't just exist in their little crackpot corner anymore. They infect everything else.

… This movie turns the screws, and it just gets more and more tense. And the characters … are all impacted by this guy's presence and how to deal with it … and his very innocuous conversations with people that spin off into terrifying directions. It's a very gripping movie, and it creates a real sense of tension over the course of its nearly two-hour running time.”

“You People”

This romantic comedy centers around the culture clash between a couple’s families from different backgrounds. It’s directed by “Black-ish” creator Kenya Barris, who co-wrote the film with Jonah Hill. 

White: “It is also about, and very wisely I think, how young liberal white people who have been raised to think that they can move through any culture with ease, still have a lot to learn. It's quite funny. … It's got a sitcom sense of safety. No one is going to be dealt with too harshly. It doesn't skewer, it pokes. And it does so in a way that's still meaningful.”