Review: SXSW: This Closeness

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Title: This Closeness
MPAA Rating: Not Yet Rated
Director: Kit Zauhar
Starring: Zane Pais, Ian Edlund, Kit Zauhar
Runtime: 1 Hour, 28 minutes

What it is: Ben and Tessa (Zane Pais and Kit Zauhar) are a couple from out of town staying in Philadelphia for the weekend. Unable to get the accommodations they desire, they wind up staying at the apartment of nerdy shut-in Adam (Ian Edlund) who is socially awkward to a fault. What follows? A tale of desire, jealousy, and passion hidden underneath the surface. As their relationship threatens to implode, Tessa finds herself having to truly consider the future and whether or not Ben and she really belong together.

What We Think: A well-written script is like a really well-cooked meal. The moment you smell it your mouth begins to water, the moment you taste it you instantly long for more, and by the end of the meal, you have a hard time believing it’s already gone. That was my experience with this movie. Props must be given to the amazing Kit Zauhar for writing, directing, and starring in this film. It’s not often you come across a script that has such well-defined characters, dialogue, and drama as this one. A testament to its superb writing is that the entire film takes place within one solitary apartment. There is no other setting, yet it remains engaging and kept my attention throughout. The characters in This Closeness all feel like real people with flaws and insecurities but also redeeming qualities as well. No one in this film is entirely innocent, no one is entirely guilty. There’s a profound line where Ben is trying to convince Tessa that his high school friend is a good person, to which she replies “we’re all good people.” That line perfectly encapsulates each character and really goes to show that Kit Zahuar knows a thing or two about great characterization. Each character has lust brimming underneath their fingertips and a longing to be close despite feeling oh so very far away from each other. It’s a very sensual movie where characters resort to sex despite longing for a deeper, much more intangible intimacy with each other. It’s a film about how even if someone is in the same bed or in the same room as you, you can still feel completely alone. Every actor in this film really brings their all with a wonderful amount of emotional range befitting their character. Not sure if it’s entirely fair to say since she wrote it, but Kit Zahuar really does an outstanding performance as Tessa. Her performance was layered and really hit it out of the park. Zane Pais and Ian Edlund did awesome at their characters as well, showing a level of vulnerability and underlying despair as their characters navigate their subtle inner journeys. 

As much as I loved this movie, if I did have one nitpick about it, I’d say my main criticism would be of Ben. At times he does seem almost a little outlandishly douchey and it makes one wonder why Tessa is even with him. It’s clearly a character choice but I felt more could’ve been done to explain why he is that way. Other than that, though, some of the best scenes in the film are between his character and Tessa.

Our Grade: A, Solid A here. It’s a movie I feel has an intelligent script and is well-acted. This Closeness is about three people put together in the same space by circumstance having to navigate how close they feel to the people around them and I am here for it. It’s not in your face with its themes but it’s subtle, real, and meaningful. It’s a story that feels ripped straight out of real life. This movie definitely hit all the right notes for me. Kit Zahuar is a very talented filmmaker and I look forward to hopefully seeing more of her work in the future.

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