Come Closer

Tribeca 2024: Come Closer is Nesher’s compelling feature debut on loss & grief

Films about grief always manage to reveal something new about the subject even though it has been extensively examined in the industry. When it comes to losing a person you love, no method ever feels like the appropriate way to cope or mourn. Yet, there’s always a natural inclination to try to hold onto the memories in peculiar ways. For her feature directorial debut, Tom Nesher tackled these notions at the 2024 Tribeca Film Festival through her semi-autobiographical drama Come Closer. With unrestricted storytelling and emotionally piercing performances from the leads, the film showcases the eternal bond among loved ones long after fate attempts to disrupt it.

Eden (Lia Elalouf) has an unbreakable attachment to her young brother Nati (Ido Tako). Having to grow up with divorced parents drew them closer, so much so that they planned to flee their shattered family dynamic once Nati came of age. After an endless night of celebrating Nati’s latest birthday, he sneaks away to spend time with his secret girlfriend Maya (Darya Rosenn). However, he never makes it to her. A tragic accident claims Nati’s life, leaving Eden and Maya desperate to hold onto the memories of him. The best way they know how is to entrust their hearts and sorrows with each other.

Director Nesher draws from personal experience to craft a compelling story about grief.

An emotionally compelling tale of loss and grief, Come Closer sees director Nesher implement her own personal story of her younger brother’s death with complexity yet sincere storytelling. From the moment Nesher’s camera captures the tragic events of the story, her empathetic lens accentuates our desperate need to seek out answers and connectivity in others when grief is the driving force. For Eden, that means building a relationship with Nati’s secret girlfriend, simply as a way to feel closer to him. For Maya, it’s a reciprocal feeling. There is hesitation among both parties at first, but once they find commonality in loving Nati, their relationship blossoms naturally.

Rosenn & Elalouf in Come Closer | Courtesy of Tribeca Film Festival
Rosenn & Elalouf in Come Closer | Courtesy of Tribeca Film Festival

Similar to the battle with grief, the story distinctively takes a turning point when Eden and Maya show clear signs that they’re beginning to move on. The discomfort they have with their relief manifests through their budding mistreatment of each other. Slowly and masterfully, Nesher uses her instincts to creep in doubt and guilt. Just when the pair begin to settle in their new relationship, the blame game ensues, and fear overtakes them in different ways.

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For Rosenn’s Maya, that means abandoning Eden as a result of crossing into unfamiliar emotional territory. Effectively, Darya lets her subtlety evolve to overt and overwhelming intensity in a way that demands empathy from viewers. In contrast, Elalouf’s Eden wears her heart on her sleeve and has no trouble speaking to what’s on her mind. But when pushed to the brink of abandonment, teetering on that familiar feeling of loss again, Eden relies on extremes. To that end, Elalouf’s performance is show-stopping. Exuding excessive confidence to mask her fears produces a transformative performance worthy of festival circuit accolades. Together, the pair gives a masterclass in showcasing the aftermaths of accepting loss and truths.

Come Closer provides empathetic insights into life’s complex questions.

Lia Elalouf as Eden in Come Closer | Courtesy of Tribeca Film Festival
Lia Elalouf as Eden in Come Closer | Courtesy of Tribeca Film Festival

For all that Come Closer represents for Tom Nesher, it could’ve been easy for the director to limit the complications that develop between her central female characters. However, the mere fact that Nesher pushes the boundaries of her storytelling is exactly why her debut feature is successful. There’s already an inherent vulnerability to the script. But when the writer/director uses that vulnerability to experiment with her characters, a beautifully complex narrative emerges. And that is life. When tragedy strikes, who do we become at the precipice of despair? How do we hold onto the memories of a lost loved one while maintaining a lust for life? These questions aren’t so easy to answer, but the filmmakers behind this genuine feature help us to do so.

A stunning and powerful journey of grief, guilt, and fear, Tom Nesher’s feature directorial debut is fearless and genuine. The story challenges us to push aside what we know about grief to explore our need for sincere connection by any means necessary. The result is an authentic display of complex emotions and beautiful storytelling. Elalouf and Rosenn deliver phenomenal performances from opposite sides of the sorrow lens. The examination of both their individual and shared experiences with grief leaves a lasting impression. But it is mostly thanks to director Nesher’s willingness to share her personal encounters with grief that we are left with a beautifully human and honest story that is bound to unlock new levels of empathy from her viewers.

Come Closer screened as part of this year’s Tribeca Film Festival.

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