Review: Close (2019) – A Damaged Daughter

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Noomi Rapace and Sophie Nélisse in Close

In recent years Noomi Rapace has found a home of sorts in Netflix dramas such as 2017’s Bright and What Happened to Monday, both of which highlighted her affinity for action roles, ones she made her own due to her capturing the physicality of the set pieces thrown her way. In Close she throws herself right into the physicality of her character but this is mindless in all other aspects of production. This January cast off misses the mark and makes you wish for something sharper.

Close follows close protection officer Sam Carlson (Rapace). Just off a job she is hired to protect the newly minted majority shareholder of a mining consortium, spoilt rich kid Zoe (Sophie Nélisse). When kidnappers attempt to take Zoe on Sam’s watch she is forced to run with Zoe in tow but events out of her control leave her without support facing off corrupt police officers, kidnappers and possibly…. an evil stepmother?

Despite giving her all to this bizarro feature, Rapace’s Sam is a hollow lead in that we are supposed to give our all to this shell-shocked, world-weary woman but the film never justifies it. Sure she can fight, Rapace makes sure we feel every hit and cut but the emotional turmoil it has on her is never backed up, her past is a mystery and so is she so when she breaks down or connects with Zoe on an emotional level we just have to stand there and accept it, hoping that answers will come. They never do. The problems she has, outside of constant violence, are never earned.

Director Vicky Jewson moves from one dire scenario to the other at a rapid pace but the connective tissue between these moments never really brings them together. Designed as a chase movie of sorts, Jewson’s direction is jumpy and full of holes. Although this feels more like an editing issue here, it leaves large gaps that are hard to fill. The breakneck plotting requires huge leaps of faith you are asked to just make without the promise of backing them up.

The issue here is a development one. Close feels like a fast tracked thriller that didn’t work out the kinks before filming. Nélisse’s Zoe feels like a caricature, a husk of a person with nothing of worth inside. unsurprisingly Nélisse acts as the films anchor, slowly pulling it under the water despite her desperate attempts to just keep swimming. The poorly planned out sociopolitical plot feels similar to Quantum of Solace, a feature bogged down by a writer’s strike that stopped some much-needed rewrites. Here, there was no excuse. One particular scene involving a television interview is so laughable you have to see it to believe it.

Lacking any sense of humanity, characters spout off plot instead of dialogue, action replaces actual sentiment and Nélisse is woefully miscast. Underdeveloped and underfunded, Close is what you get when you half arse a production. I’d like to say there could have been something here worth your time, apart from one of the strangest eulogies of all time, but Close is nowhere near close to good.

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