This Closeness

This Closeness
This Closeness
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This is not to say that a luxurious hotel, motel or Airbnb will always save you the trouble of falling in love again – as one learned from Blue Valentine and Before Midnight. That is to say that sometimes going for a vacation at some fancy hotel/motel/airbnb place does not save your relationship, either. This is also true in Zauhar’s second film and low budget but hard hitting drama

It’s about the closeness between two people who spend a weekend staying in some random person’s rented apartment. They are not married like the old couples in Cianfrance’s earlier films or Linklater movies, yet they may remind you of an elderly couple who has been together so long that they have begun bickering like children; putting up with each other despite their otherwise reasonable selves. The performances are almost too real if you’ve had bad relationships before.

Meet Tessa (Zauhur) and Ben (Zane Pais), her boyfriend. You are likely to be drawn more towards one than the other. For Ben’s high school reunion, they go to Philadelphia for the weekend where he says things during arrival and moving into their temporary residence which make it sound like this whole thing is just a Ben show and Tessa feels she should help him out nicely.” And no, they’re not at Four Seasons, but rather sharing a cramped two-bedroom apartment with Adam Ian Edlund) – an introvert with creepy vibes all over inside him – whose roommate Lance, whom we never meet thus adding another aspect of mystery here has since moved out. What led them to break up? Did they come into conflict over it?

Adam himself doesn’t know them well but rents Lance’s room to pay rent money every month as his current financial situation demands him to do so. It makes sense given how inflation is skyrocketing today. On top of that, This Closeness might remind movie lovers of Dave Franco’s The Rental, especially how Ian is like the lurid landlord from last year.

However, Ben and Tessa aren’t so pleased with what they have paid for. First, their bedroom is cold and host Ian has no answer to that. All the same, in this small city apartment the three of them are constantly stepping over each other. Anyone who tried to make it in cities like New York or Los Angeles would know what it means to be constantly smothered by their surroundings.

Also, being a stubborn hotheaded Ben who doesn’t really take “no” for an answer can’t possibly help much either way. Poor Tessa is always rolling her eyes and wincing (as well as us) while Adam tries to explain to Ben why his living conditions are less than ideal for him anymore. “If the window A/C unit is causing the cold air to come in then can’t we just move it?” asks Ben curtly. This dead love affair presents a dynamic which almost mirrors last year’s MUBI hit movie Passages – although not as sexy.

This is not to say that sex is off the table here. It’s clear that Adam has a crush on Tessa, especially once he knows what she does for a living – produces calming videos for her followers, which are almost sexy. It drives him crazy enough that Adam has to retreat into the bathroom at some point. In the meantime, Ben goes out partying with some of his high school buddies without Tessa and even takes another girl to her place. This is Lizzie (Jessie Pinnick), an ex-classmate who had an affair with Ben in the past. However, Lizzie and Tessa eventually clash when Tessa tries to join them for their late-night conversation while drinking beer at the kitchen table. Some things just aren’t meant to be and that applies even to such friends who served their purpose.

However, this closeness excels by defying expectations and keeping you on your toes as exemplified in Tessa and Lizzie’s interaction. They end up intertwining in ways no one could ever predict whereas all along they were growing apart from each other, adamantly so.Adam remains predictably obnoxious; he hasn’t changed a bit or even realized how much pain Tessa is going through while trying to figure herself out about their future together as he gets wasted with trashy friends from high school instead of looking after her loneliness.The song “What’s my age again” by Blink-182 seems relevant in relation to themes of This Closeness on different levels particularly when it comes down to someone like Ben – who cannot admit there is anything wrong.

In contrast, This Closeness wins us over because it goes full-on-all-the-way-emotions and reminds us why desperate feelings like loneliness can make life difficult for you after all these years. It’s exactly what we’ve seen before in modern romance movies and if Zauhar had more money, she could have given us more pictures of a vibrant Philly. But we can safely assume that her latest film will have a place “near” your heart long after the end credits are done.

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