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Close to Leo (TV) More at IMDbPro »Tout contre Léo (original title)

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12 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Touching in its simplicity

Author: remic from California
31 August 2004

It was very heart-warming. As an expatriated french, I particularly enjoyed this "TV" movie, which I think deserves a broader distribution. The acting was good, and the bonds between each member of this rural French family seemed so

strong and so natural. No doubt a great movie about the concept of family and inclusion in the face of homosexuality and AIDS. One of the strongest aspect of the movie is this privileged relationship between the eldest son (Leo), who has contracted HIV, and the youngest son (Marcel), to whom the rest of the family try to hide the situation. The two characters

progressively explore each other as time runs out for Leo, who is not willing to spend the rest of his life surviving under drugs...

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12 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

Tender and wonderfully real

Author: Howard Schumann from Vancouver, B.C.
25 October 2004

It is projected that between 2000 and 2020, 68 million people will die prematurely as a result of AIDS. The projected toll is greatest in sub-Saharan Africa where 55 million additional deaths can be expected. Beyond the grim statistics are personal stories that we rarely hear about. Christophe Honoré describes one of the most moving in Close to Leo, a film produced for French television as part of a series dealing with issues facing young people. Though fictional, it deals with a situation that is unfortunately too common -- the effect of a diagnosis of HIV on a loving close-knit family.

When twenty one-year old Leo (Pierre Mignard) tells his parents and two teenage brothers, Tristan (Rodolphe Pauley) and Pierrot (Jeremie Lippmann) that he has AIDS, the family is devastated. Out of concern for his youth, they decide to withhold the information from his youngest brother, 12-year old Marcel (Yannis Lespert) but he overhears the conversation and begins to sulk and act erratically. When Leo goes to Paris for treatment, he takes Marcel with him but the young boy confronts Leo and demands to know the truth. Leo tells him that he is ill and Marcel is sad but accepting. When he brings Marcel along to meet some former gay friends, however, tension between them boils to the surface, setting the stage for a riveting conclusion.

Although I was uncomfortable with scenes in bed involving physical contact between the brothers, I feel that the sincerity of Close to Leo and the brilliant performances by Lespert and Mignard more than tip the scales in its favor. Seeing events unfold from the young boy's perspective gives the film an authenticity that reminded me of the Quebecois film Leolo and Truffaut's The 400 Blows. Unlike some American films that dance around the anguish of AIDS, Close to Leo tells a harsh truth but does so in a way that is tender and wonderfully real.

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7 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Excellent french COA movie

Author: ninoguapo from Middle of Nowhere
22 March 2007

This movie was for a while in my collection, but it wasn't before a friend of mine reminded me about it – until I decided that I should watch it. I did not know much about Close to Leo – just that it was supposed to be excellent coming out of age movie and it deals with a very serious topic – Aids.

Although the person who has aids – is Leo – the scenario wraps around the way in which Marcel (the youngest brother of Leo) coupes with the sickness of his relative. At first everyone is trying to hide the truth from Marcel – he is believed to be too young to understand the sickness of his brother – the fact that Leo is also a homosexual contributes to the unwillingness of the parents to discus the matter with the young Marcel. I know from experience that on many occasions most older people do not want to accept the fact that sometimes even when someone is young this does not automatically means that he will not be able to accept the reality and act in more adequate manner then even themselves . With exception of the fact that the family tried to conceal the truth from Marcel, they have left quite an impression for me – the way they supported their son – even after discovering the truth about his sexuality and his sickness. The fact that they allowed the young Marcel to travel along with Leo to Paris to meet his ex boyfriend was quite a gesture from them– most families I know will be reluctant to do that. There is a lot of warmth in the scenes in which the brothers spend some time together – you can see them being real friends , concern about each other.

Close to Leo is an excellent drama, which I strongly recommend

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8 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Devastating news

Author: jotix100 from New York
23 January 2006

This film made for French TV deals with the tragic effect it has for a close knit family. When Leo, the young man at the center of the story is diagnosed as having the AIDS virus, announces it to his parents, they just can't believe it. The film is a character study on how this family deals with its subject.

The director, Christophe Honore, has to be congratulated for bringing this frank account to the screen. Nowhere but in France could this story make it to the movies because of the subject matter.

The news has a devastating effect on Marcel, the young brother who hears about what Leo has contracted, in spite of the way the parents want to shelter him from reality.

Yaniss Lespart and Pierre Mignard do a convincing job in portraying the brothers.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Touching look at a family dealing with a crisis

Author: Havan_IronOak from NYC/FL
20 October 2003

I found this film to be a fascinating study of a family in crisis. When Leo, the oldest announces that he is HIV+ the reactions of the family members alone and with each other was touching and yet strange.

I have never seen a family that was as physically demonstrative as this one; nor one as likely to shout at each other. I didn't understand why the family felt that youngest couldn't deal with the news but once past that difficult I found this a thoroughly moving film.

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5 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Another Flawed Writer/Director Gay Themed Film Project

Author: Franco-LA from United States
11 July 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is an interesting movie that reflects the elements of being a non-US release, and it has many nice moments, including moments of great bonding between the father and his sons, and between the brothers. However, the movie is marred by some very obvious and frankly trite interludes, such as the death of the chicken, the lengthy episode with Ivan and Marcel, some of the Paris scenes (while some were loverly moments, others just felt like they padded the film out - such as the bench scene, the sexual interlude at the hotel lobby with the desk clerk), etc. They don't add to the film and the detract from the narrative and mar the message (and frankly also help to muddy matters).

If the movie was overlong and narratively dense, it would be one thing, but the movie is very short and much of it jumps, without explanation. If the movie were merely an exposition of family life, it would be one thing. But it's not -- that's merely one element.

Another thing that hurts the film is the fact that a 1996 book (that likely was written somewhat earlier than that) that finally got made into a made for TV movie released some six years later (and despite some of the praise on here, the film does feel very much like a well-made and well-intentioned but filmed teleplay nonetheless), the notable thing about Close to Leo is how dated it is in its approach to an HIV diagnosis or to a drug cocktail (15 pills? No one is taking 15 pills as a first line HIV therapy in this decade, and certainly not in France in 2002). While the family may have been a provincial one, even in 1996, an HIV diagnosis was not a death sentence and certainly in 2002 it was definitely not one. While plenty still die from HIV and others do not want to take a drug cocktail, nothing is done to establish any real or genuine basis for the perceived ending of this film.

The other flaw of the film is the limited (and in some respects conflicted - such as her sudden desire to have sex with the father immediately after he consoles Marcel over the slap at the dinner table) role the mother is given. Some of what the actress is forced to do is absurd, such as the wearing of the burgundy (or perhaps it was intended to be blood red) dress without shoes and her collapse in the garden.

This is a typical problem with a writer director film, particularly unfortunate as this happens with their first film and this is at least his second film, depending on when they were produced and shot, versus the release date.

Watchable but not worthy of some of the comments on here or it's current higher score. Not as bad as some of the negative comments, just deeply and unfortunately flawed.

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8 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

A movie that centres on the relationship between a young man HIV+ and his family

1 August 2004

I loved this movie. First, because it is a family movie. Second, because it offers a refreshing take on dealing with the news of HIV in a family, with far less hysteria than what I have normally seen in the movies. The brothers are very close, yet are not judgmental. Their desire to protect the youngest brother is noble, but not needed in the end. I understand that Leo's choice on how to deal with his treatment may not have been the most popular one with people, but I believed it was the right choice for him. I can't believe that this was a french television programme. It had great production values. I gave this movie a ten, and I think you will too, once you have seen it.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

How Would WE?

Author: thomasdosborneii from United States
9 October 2011

How DOES a person react to the news that they have HIV and how does their family act? In fact, how do we think WE would act? Well, regarding that second question, I honestly don't have the slightest idea and fortunately, haven't had to find out. But I am guessing that it would involve a vast variety of conflicting and changeable emotions and behaviors, both rational and irrational, as was expressed here in this, what I can only believe is a very realistic film...because each individual and family may have their own responses. I think all emotional responses and behaviors are realistic and justified under the circumstances, even some that might generate distaste among some viewers of this film. A family, with its shock, fear, grief, and shame, if they feel those emotions, may decide to protect whom they believe is a more vulnerable member of the family. Then they may decide that that was the wrong tack to follow. Or maybe not. Who knows WHAT to do, really? Sometimes paralysis is bound to take over to the extent of collapsing into semi-catatonia, or maybe the opposite, such as running wildly toward a futile sense of escape. Any and everything may happen, and all are valid.

Isn't it realistic that one so stricken might want to reach out to people who had held meaning in the past, but not really have any idea how to go about that in a prudent way? Or maybe there will be feelings of hatred or envy of those who are able to peacefully go through the normalcy of their lives, because they do not have this issue to suddenly contend with. Maybe one might for a moment become utterly irresponsible and uncaring, or self-destructive, for in the face of death, or certain pain and anguish, what of any shreds of a former morality may seem to truly matter?

I believe that this film accurately explores the potential universe of reactions in a powerfully communicative way. This maybe made the "narrative story" jerky or uncomfortable to watch or understand, but if so, welcome to THEIR world.

I don't believe that the makers of this film believe that this film, or any other, shows the definitive way things will happen under these circumstances. I think they know more than that...that they know that we all DON'T know and all bets are off, but in their work, here, they are going to explore and have the viewer live some of the possibilities. And I felt that as a viewer, they were very successful. I couldn't help but feel throughout this movie, things maybe I didn't want to feel, but I then I shouldn't watch a movie like this if I wanted to be protected. We all knew going into it what the subject matter was.

One thing that I thoroughly appreciated about the film was the physical affection and body contact among the various family members that seemed to disturb the sensibilities of some reviewers, when it is so clear to me that one valid reaction might be the family's desire (either being satisfied in actuality or else communicated metaphorically via the visual language of film) to utterly ABSORB every precious square inch of not only the body of the loved one that is soon to be falling apart, possibly into nothingness, but also those suddenly even-more- precious-than-ever-before who will remain after the one so stricken has gone, all of whom will have to live with this shared loss for the rest of their lives. And for the one stricken, to connect with the sweet human flesh of those whom he loves while he still can effect such a connection, I submit that the most fundamental and reliable communication of all may be through touch and the body, for the emotions and the intellect would be too much in a typhoon to be constant.

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4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

very moving

Author: bbuudd403 from milw wi
7 January 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I saw this movie about a week ago and still keep thinking about it. I was very moved by this movie. I found the characters very believable and likable almost to a fault. As in real life though sometimes people disappoint, as was the case with Leo, who even though I liked his character I could not have been more disappointed when he was willing to have unprotected sex even though fully aware of his HIV status. I was also disappointed with Leo for rejecting the medicine available to him, and the awful way he treated Marcel when he decided to ship him back home on the train. I think this movie showed in a very real way why HIV numbers are up in young gay men. This is in no way meant to bash gays (I am gay) and movie very well could have been made about a young straight person who makes bad choices and seems unaware of the consequences to himself and others. The only part of the movie I couldn't understand was why the (gay friendly) family was unwilling to include Marcel in Leo's illness to the point of not allowing him to go to the funeral.

I think the biggest message from this movie is that whether gay or straight is DO NOT HAVE UNPROTECTED SEX!

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Breathtaking and intimate

Author: from England
1 December 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A beautifully judged and finely balanced look at the fall-out when a family is rocked by the news that the eldest brother has HIV, this film looks at the triangle of conflict that arises when 19 year-old Leo wants 12 year-old Marcel to be told the news, and his parents don't. Trying to hide things in such a tight-knit quartet of brothers is extremely difficult and immediately futile, as the family are not sufficiently discreet when discussing it. This film examines very effectively the damage done when families are over protective. Pierre Mignard and Yannis Lespert are electric as Leo and Marcel, and Marie Bunel is quietly devastating as the mother.

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