A Different Narrative Structure: Our Review of ‘This Closeness’

Posted in Theatrical by - June 07, 2024
A Different Narrative Structure: Our Review of ‘This Closeness’

What does it mean to be close to the people around you, and what power does connection have on our view of ourselves and others within our society? This Closeness provides commentary on various social issues: relationship dynamics, power struggles, and the claustrophobic nature of shared spaces within urban living. It focuses on the power of human connection built within the sanctity of shared spaces and how these relationships impact one’s view of oneself.

However, it needs to catch up when it comes to providing the viewer with the opportunity to get answers to these questions. The most significant issue with the film is that while I can hold an appreciation for making the audience uncomfortable with the plot to prove a point, this only works when the ending provides some relief. This fact is shown in films such as Zone of Interest – the uncomfortable nature of the film’s plot makes a statement that the audience must understand the true horrors behind the scenes. But that film’s ending fulfils the discomfort’s purpose; it speaks to how, as a society, we must understand the darkest parts of history to create change in the future. 

I understand the narrative structure of This Closeness is an entirely different film in nature. However, I was constantly searching for relief from the performative actions of each of our protagonists. There’s Tessa, an ASMR YouTuber struggling with finding connection in both her partner and her purpose within this space; Ben, the boyfriend trapped in reliving his teenage years to prove his worth to the people around him, and Adam, a loner renting out his spare bedroom as an Airbnb in an attempt to find solstice within his isolating existence. Each of these characters, despite their flaws, resonates with our struggles and desires, making their journey all the more compelling. Yet, their consistently bad judgment calls concerning their interactions left me uneasy about the reasoning behind it. 

As a viewer, I constantly hoped for a change in pace within the film’s narrative structure. While I appreciate parts of the narrative, I believe that director Kit Zauhar’s (also playing Tessa) intentions are to say more about this shifting power dynamic within this shared space while emotionally dealing with these characters’ individual hangups. I have yet to have the opportunity to watch other features created by Zauhar, but for me, this piece feels like a story gone wrong. It misses the intended ending that would encapsulate the feelings of tension and self-discovery it seems this film was building towards throughout. It also doesn’t help that other than for brief glimpses, the characters themselves were unlikable people – each out searching for something that will never exist in the world where they only have one another.  

In all, I left with a mix of emotions after watching This Closeness. The open-ended final scene, while maybe seen as a way to force viewers to unpack their perspective on the impacts of building genuine human connection, adds to the unsettling nature of the film. The entire plot revolves around these characters’ desperate attempts to escape the monotony of their current existence, and the lack of a definitive ending leaves the viewer with a sense of unresolved tension. This, coupled with the film’s unique narrative structure and thought-provoking content, left me with a desire for more and sparked a sense of anticipation and curiosity about the characters’ future. Sometimes, audiences can be left wanting more, but in this case, the film leaves this viewer wondering what it all was for.

This post was written by
Caitie Talty is a teacher in Edmonton, Alberta currently working on her Master's in Educational Studies. As a lover of all things literacy, she is beginning her deep dive into obscure films and texts, and finding new ways to speak her thoughts on both elements into public existence. Outside of building on her film education, she enjoys spending time with her partner, traveling the world, and trying to pet every dog she crosses paths with.
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