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Close to Leo

4.4 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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(Dec 14, 2010)
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Editorial Reviews

The heartwarming story of 11-year-old Marcel and his older, gay brother Leo, who has AIDS.

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Yaniss Lespert, Pierre Mignard, Marie Bunel, Rodolphe Pauly, Jérémie Lippmann
  • Directors: Christophe Honoré
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Unrated
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Picture This, Breaking Glass Pictures
  • DVD Release Date: December 14, 2010
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0001Y4MK4
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #141,203 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Close to Leo" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
"Close to Leo" ("Tout contre Leo") shows the destructive impact on a 12-year old of the decisions made by older family members to hide personal information and feelings.
Marcel (played by Yannis Lespert) is the 12-year old. He has three older brothers, Leo (Pierre Mignard), Tristan (Rodolphe Pauly), and Pierrot (Jeremie Lippmann), all around 20 years old. After some introductory scenes, the movie really starts with Marcel going off to bed but coming back to hear the father of the family (Dominic Gould) ask the others not to tell Marcel that Leo is HIV-positive, because Marcel is "too young."
Marcel is soon acting a bit strangely and asking indirect questions. The mother (Marie Bunel) evades the questions. The other brothers make hints but back off on telling the story. Marcel does get some reassurance and information from the mother of one of his classmates.
Leo takes Marcel on a trip to Paris, where Leo hopes to rekindle a romance with an ex-boyfriend. Marcel hears from Leo that Leo is indeed very sick and very gay. After a while Marcel is able to figure out that that Leo is also very unhappy with his situation and with taking his meds. Leo puts Marcel on a train back home to Finisterre (western Brittany), saying that Leo is counting on Marcel to lighten the atmosphere back home. Then the movie goes on to its brief, unhappy conclusion.
Family life is filled with touching, hugs, kisses, sharing beds (non-sexually), and apparent good humor. Marcel finds himself having to counterbalance this with the adults' rapid mood swings and sudden distancing. The alternation of childhood intimacy and adult discretion, followed by trauma, finally gets to Marcel.
The boys are frequently not fully dressed, and the older brothers go skinny dipping.
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Format: DVD
CLOSE TO LEO as written and directed by Christophe Honore is one of the most sensitive, warmly human stories to be captured on film in recent years. This small but very touching film radiates the beauty that can be found in families devoted to each other, a type of love that seems all too rare these days.
Leo (Pierre Mignard) at age 21 is the eldest of four sons of a small family in a little town in Brittany. Leo is gay and is completely accepted for his lifestyle by his parents (father - Dominic Gould and mother Marie Bunel) as well as his younger brothers Tristan (Rodolphe Pauley), Pierrot (Jeremie Lippmann) and the youngest , 11 years old Marcel (Yannis Lespert). When Leo discovers he is HIV positive, his family is supportive and plans to look for the best treatment and care. However, their discussion and closeness to Leo is not shared with Marcel who is 'protected' from AIDS information the family feels would be damaging to Marcel. Problem: Marcel overhears the discussion and is enraged by his exclusion, forcing him into destructive behavior with his little friend. Ultimately Leo accepts his family's advice to seek treatment in Brest and Paris and decides to take Marcel with him on his journey for help (and for a assignation with a previous lover). As Leo's difficulty in facing his disease grows in intensity, he sends Marcel home and the ending of the movie is a sensitive climax best left for the viewer to absorb alone.
Not only is this story one that restores our belief in the sanctity of family, it also presents a potentially cataclysmic topic with such reverence for privacy and for understanding that it becomes a major accomplishment due much more visibility than it has gained.
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Format: DVD
Lovers of foreign films will find this movie a gem. Unlike most American offerings, foreign productions rely on human relationships and emotions to drive the plot rather than sterotypical situations and characters. This film is no exception. The movie, which is more about family bonds at a time of crisis then it is about homosexuality and the horror of AIDS, is candid and enthralling from beginning to end. The relationships between the family members is touching, and at times inadvertently strange, especially if you're from an American family. The love they have for one another comes across very strong and actions like cuddling while sleeping in the same bed and incidental nudity among brothers (things considered inappropriate in other cultures) are not in any way sexual but simply a natural part of family life. In my opinion a good movie allows you to think about bigger issues. While watching "Close to Leo" I couldn't help but wonder how much stronger and stable people, and in turn societies, would be if most families were like this. Maybe cultures in general have been too quick to demonize and think of such activities as suspect or improperly sexual. Even the family's questionable decision to keep the plight of Marcel's favorite brother a secret is made out of concern and compassion not selfishness or malice. The climax of the film does contains graphic sexuality and nudity between Leo and a hostel keeper, but it is done in a very realistic and poignant way. It is here where the audience is able to see how Leo's deep familial love enables him to make a final unselfish choice. By deciding to change his previous wanton behavior and send Marcel back home alone from Paris, he makes the decision to take possession of his own pain over his death and refuse to allow anyone in the family to take it upon themselves.

Definitely a "must see" if you get the opportunity.
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