Run time: 88 mins
In Theaters: Saturday 18th October 2003
Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5
IMDB: 7.2 / 10
Director: Christophe Honoré
Screenwriter: Diastème, Christophe Honoré
Starring: Yaniss Lespert as Marcel, Pierre Mignard as Léo, Marie Bunel as Mother, Rodolphe Pauly as Tristan, Jérémie Lippmann as Pierrot, Dominic Gould as Father, Louis Gonzales as Yvan, Joana Preiss as Yvan's Mother
Naturally the family quickly closes ranks and decides together that it's best not to tell Marcel, who is too young to handle such bad news. The problem is that Marcel has overheard some of the conversation, and he knows something is going terribly wrong in his perfect world.
Tristan and Pierrot do whatever they can to support Leo's quickly flagging spirits. Plunged into depression, he doesn't want to bother with the complicated course of daily medications and their side effects. Sensitive Marcel picks up on all the bad vibes around the house, demands answers, and getting none, starts to behave erratically himself. The family finds itself put to the test as never before.
Eventually Leo decides to go for specialized treatment in Paris and gets the OK to take Marcel along on what the family hopes will be a road trip that will calm them both down. Unfortunately, Marcel's excitement quickly cools as he meets some of Leo's old city friends and former lovers, and Leo isn't well served by all the reunions either. The brothers fight and pull apart, and the stage is set for a devastating farewell as Leo decides to send Marcel home to the family, not knowing if they will ever meet again.
Director Christophe Honoré dares to make Marcel the emotional center of this deeply felt film, and luckily, Lespert rises to the challenge, turning in one of the best juvenile performances of recent years. Marcel goes through a lot and hangs tough throughout, even when an enraged Leo mocks him for thinking that life, even for an 11 year old, is supposed to be some sort of endless party. It's selfish and cruel of Leo to force Marcel to confront all they find in Paris, and it's obvious to the viewer, if not to the pained Marcel, that Leo is doing it in order to drive Marcel away and make their separation less excruciating. But Marcel knows how tightly the brothers are bonded, and he remains as resolute as any kid can in such an awful situation. His love and loyalty is incredibly moving as is the love and loyalty of the entire family as Marcel returns home, his sad Gallic eyes looking sadder than ever.
Close to Leo digs deep and feels wonderfully real. Usually cinematic families fly apart. How rare to see a film where the drama comes out of a strong family finding ways to grow even stronger.
Aka Tout Contre Léo.