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Come Closer Review: The Love Grief Brings   

A red haired girl looks intensely at the camera in an indoor shot at night in a still from the film Come Closer

Tom Nesher’s Come Closer is one of the most beautiful and visceral portrayals of grief and the ways we try to make peace with loss.

Director: Tom Nesher
Genre: Queer, Drama, Biographical
Run Time: 107′
Tribeca Premiere: June 6-8, 2024
Release Date: TBA

One of my favorite sayings about grief is that it’s just all the love you are no longer to give to the person who has passed. There’s something comforting in knowing that grief is just love in another form, love that will go unexpressed. Tom Nesher’s film Come Closer is a story about what to do with all the grief and leftover love that lingers in the wake of loss.

It’s a film based on her personal experience of losing her brother in a tragic accident, an experience mirrored by Come Closer’s protagonist. This debut feature film is sensitive and unflinching in its look at loss but ultimately evolves into a beautiful story about unexpressed love being returned to those who need it most. 

Come Closer tells the story of Eden (Lia Elalouf) in the wake of a tragic accident that took her beloved brother Nati’s (Ido Tako) life. The film opens on Nati’s birthday. While he is leaving a voicemail to an anonymous person telling them he will be there soon, he is kidnapped by a group of kids and thrown into a van. While Nati is initially frightened, the van pulls up to a beach where Eden stands and reveals it was all a part of a surprise birthday party. After spending a night partying with his sister and friends, Nati leaves to go meet the same mystery person from his earlier phone call, but before he can get in his taxi, he is hit by a car and dies shortly after.

Eden is overcome with grief over the loss of her brother. Her parents in the wake of a nasty and seemingly neverending argument over their divorce are no comfort to her, her brother was truly her only ally in life. At his funeral, she sees a mysterious girl in the crowd of mourners that catches her eye. When she later finds a love note while going through Nati’s things, she puts two and two together and knows the mysterious girl was Nati’s secret girlfriend. She goes to confront Maya (Darya Rosenn) about the secrecy surrounding their relationship but ends up finding the only other person in the world who loved her brother as deeply as she did

While initially coping with the loss of her brother through alcohol, drugs and a sexual relationship with her married boss, once Eden meets Maya she is finally able to relate to someone over the tremendous loss she has faced. The two girls become quickly intertwined in one another’s lives and embark on a journey to cope together

Twi girls ride a bicycle together while smiling in a still from the film Come Closer
Come Closer (Fandango / 2024 Tribeca Film Festival)

Come Closer beautifully illustrates all the stages that come with dealing with a major loss. Eden and Maya are complete foils of one another, showing the different worlds that Nati existed in. Eden is rebellious and free-spirited: she’s the type of girl you immediately notice when she walks into a room. She simply sparkles. Maya, on the other hand, is straight-laced and cautious. She is completely unaware of the world Eden operates in and while deeply in love with Nati, she was always questioning whether or not she was interesting enough to be with someone like him.

While we get very little time with Nati, we get to know him and his complexities extremely well based on the time we spend with both of the women he loved. On paper, they should have nothing in common, but their relationships with Nati have bonded them together for life, as they are truly the only ones who understand his loss in a comparable way. 

Lia Elalouf’s debut turn as Eden is revolutionary. For this to be not only her first leading role, but first ever acting credit is astonishing considering the grace and ease in which she is able to portray the endlessly nuanced Eden. Eden is hard and aggressive when you first meet her. She’s physical and intimidating. However, once she really lets people in, at her very core she is fragile and someone you need to handle with a great deal of care. When she loses Nati she loses the only person she has let into her inner world in this way. 

Similarly, this is Darya Rosenn’s first major acting role which you would never know from her sensitive take on the character of Maya. Maya is not like Eden and Nati. She is scared of the world around her. Nati, and with time Eden, show her how to be brave through their fearless nature. 

When Maya and Eden collide, they are able to keep Nati and his memory alive. Parts of him live deep inside one another, when they share laughs and moments in time it’s almost as if he’s there with them. While Eden never knew Maya while Nati was alive for whatever reason, in his death he has brought the two of them together when they needed each other most. 

However, as the film progresses, Eden and Maya need to look at their relationship and decide weather or not it is a true bond that holds them together or simply their inability to let go of the parts of Nati they possess. This truly illustrates the confusion that comes from loss. Not knowing what to do next, not knowing what is a good thing to cling to or when to let go of something that only let you feel momentarily better. 

When Eden finds and connects with Maya, she thinks she has finally found a healthy way to cope with the loss of the person she loved most in this world. Although it begs the question, has she found someone who can help her truly heal or someone to replace the space he held in her life? It’s important Nesher includes these types of questions and contradictions in her film about loss because so many films aren’t open to exploring the ways in which loss make us doubt ourselves and our sense of logic. 

A girl stands on her bed with a hand down her pants in a still from the film Come Closer
Come Closer (Fandango / 2024 Tribeca Film Festival)

Nesher doesn’t claim to have all the answers. Come Closer isn’t a guide to living through loss, but a beautifully written example of the confusion that clouds our lives and our judgments when we lose the types of people that are the biggest parts of our identities. 

Come Closer is a film chalked full of first filmmakers on both sides of the camera, which is why its impactful message and touching storytelling are all the more impressive. It’s a story about what you gain through loss. It shows that if you are able to recognize all the leftover love you have and put it into something, or someone, good, things will actually be just fine.

Come Closer premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival on June 6-8, 2024. Read our list of 15 films to watch at the 2024 Tribeca Film Festival!

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