‘This Closeness’ Ending Explained & Movie Recap: Does Tessa Break Up With Ben?

In Kit Zauhar’s This Closeness, the narrative is confined to the space of one small apartment. There’s not even a shot where you get a view of the outside (baring the final thirty seconds, but even that’s mostly limited to faces). Yet, you don’t get bothered or bored for a minute because a whole lot of things happen inside that small apartment. The three main characters—a couple and this other guy—are thrown into a sea of awkwardness. Zauhar herself plays one half of the couple, Tessa, and she is absolutely fantastic; and so is actor Zane Pais, who plays her majorly red flag boyfriend, Ben. The star of the show is, of course, Ian Edlund’s Adam, a strange, bumbling guy who gives off a very strong incel vibe. In about ninety minutes, This Closeness pulls off an astute portrayal of anxiety, desire, and loneliness. It purposefully puts a problematic relationship at the center of it and also uses sex as a symbol of power. The ending of This Closeness might have baffled you, though, and that’s why you’re here. So let’s get on with it. 


Spoilers Ahead

What Happens in the Film? 

For their brief stay over the weekend in Philadelphia, Tessa and Ben decide to stay in a shared apartment. Their host, Adam, appears to be really weird and also very reclusive. When the couple points out that the advertisement was posted by someone named Lance, Adam explains that it was actually his roommate who had to leave for a family emergency. It was Lance who insisted that Adam have different roommates for a brief period. According to Adam, Lance and he are the best of friends, and Lance suggested this only because Adam is socially awkward and being around all these different people might help him. Tessa and Ben are here for his high school reunion. She’s an ASMR video creator who’s moderately popular on YouTube. We never get to know what Ben does, except he mentions once that he met Tessa thanks to research about ASMR. Adam is also in (almost) the same profession as Tessa—he edits video game reels. Right after stepping in, Ben complains about an issue with their window (a legitimate one, though). Adam is not too pleased with it, but he does help Ben fix it and ends up hurting his hand. Tessa later checks on Adam when Ben is out with his friends. When Tessa returns from dinner (a quiet one, all by herself, I believe), she finds out that Ben has brought a guest—his childhood friend Lizzy.


Why do Tessa and Ben fight? 

The to-the-point answer would be because Ben is an ignorant douchebag and (unsurprisingly) a terrible boyfriend (well, dude admits it once when he’s drunk). For being just a friend, Lizzy acts all touchy-feely with Ben, which obviously makes Tessa uncomfortable. Ben is oblivious to it, which only gives Lizzy the opportunity to go as far as proclaiming she has a crush on Ben. Tessa pretends to be nice throughout the night, but the next morning, she can’t hold it anymore. The two argue over Lizzy, where he not only blames his girlfriend for being insecure, he even gets hella mad and throws an ice-coffee on her (it only ends up making a mess on the floor though). They eventually make up, basically because Tessa decides not to prolong it further, but it’s very obvious that she’s hurting inside. 

Things take a strange turn when Tessa makes an ASMR video of Lizzy (yeah, she’s sporting enough to do that), and things get very close to hot and heavy, until Adam abruptly opens his door, and the whole thing effectively loses steam. One might wonder what exactly is going on here. There’s no definitive answer, but my theory is that this is a case of jealousy working as a pivot for attraction. Tessa is a curious person in general, and whatever desire she feels for Lizzy comes from a place of curiosity. Maybe for a fleeting moment, she felt the desire to explore what the fuss (the whole hype the narrative intentionally builds around Lizzy’s appeal) is all about! 


Does something happen between Adam and Tessa?

Sigmund Freud did believe that everything in this world has something to do with sex, and Zauhar’s film pretty much testifies to that (in case you’re wondering, I am also a believer in the same). Something was bound to happen between Adam and Tessa, but this is not the kind of story where these two would just end up sleeping together (that would have been kind of out of character, to be honest). Adam’s personality might not be bright and sunny, but he has been nice to Tessa from the start. The same goes for Tessa, who’s a genuinely good person and is nice to everyone. Naturally, when Adam is curious about how ASMR works, Tessa is more than happy to show him her device and how she works around it. Adam is genuinely intrigued (so am I, as I am fond of ASMR and had no idea about such machines). We can clearly see that Tessa likes the attention she’s getting from Adam. There’s a carefully placed scene where Tessa is (very likely) speaking to a therapist and extensively talking about how lonely she feels in her relationship. It’s not that she doesn’t love Ben, but with almost every single scene, the movie keeps showing us how a bad relationship looks, realistically. I would even say it’s Zauhar’s attempt to help people who are stuck in such relationships.

Coming back to the original question, Adam’s request for Tessa to do the ASMR thing to him again is downright weird. But he could only do that because Tessa is a rare person who has finally treated him like a human being. It’s quite obvious that he’s into her, but is he actively trying to break up her relationship and disrupt her life? I don’t think so. Whether anything would have happened between Adam and Tessa if Ben hadn’t walked in on them during the ASMR season is a hypothetical thing, but the possibility of it is undeniable, especially when Tessa pretty much confessed to Ben that she was willingly doing it and Adam was not forcing it on her. During her second proper fight with Ben, she keeps highlighting the fact that Adam has been genuinely nice to her. Ben, of course, like always, tries to gaslight her into thinking “it’s her fault and he’s just getting hurt,” yet again proving his endless unworthiness.


Does Tessa break up with Ben?

I like movies that leave the audience at a point of discussion. This Closeness‘ ending is just such a thing. Let us look into the set of events that led here. Just when you think the fight between Ben and Tessa is going to take an ugly turn, the two reconcile in the strangest possible manner. They bond over their shared belief that Lance is an imaginary person. Up until the moment, Ben was threatened by Adam, but this just neutralizes that. Adam suddenly turns into this weird loser, and Tessa, being a generous person, was just pitying him. This leads to Ben and Tessa having this burst of erotic energy and getting physical, all while talking about what Adam and Tessa could have done. Ben is obviously playing this thing out as a fantasy in his head, but can you tell for sure that Tessa is not actually thinking about a sweaty Adam from earlier and that his niceness is an actual turn-on for her? 

Meanwhile, thanks to the walls being pretty thin (which plays a very important part), Adam gets to hear everything from outside. He is already aware of what Ben thinks of him, and it clearly bothers him. There’s no doubt that Adam dislikes Ben, especially because of the fact that he’s with Tessa. Adam becoming attracted to Tessa is only natural, and her giving him attention only fuels that further. Tessa had no business showing interest in his life, work, or frisbee group, but since she did, Adam is over the moon. He would even not hesitate to touch himself in the shower—we know for a fact that it’s Tessa he’s thinking about while doing so. But when he hears Tessa and Ben concluding their fight over him being a loser and then getting wild and intimate, Adam’s bubble bursts. He now has no choice but to retaliate and show both Ben and Tessa that he is no loser. As a result, he goes on this sudden date with Kristen, with whom he has zero chemistry and there’s every chance of her being an escort. Adam makes sure that Tessa knows about it. He also purposefully brings Kristen home and starts to take things to an erotic level only after Tessa and Ben are back in the other room. Adam’s sole purpose here is to make Ben and Tessa hear that he is also getting it, even better and louder than them, if you know what I mean! It is also understandable that the scene between Adam and Kristen looks straight out of an regular adult film. Adam doesn’t have much experience, for sure, and for him, that’s what intimacy looks like. Inevitably, he ends up weirding out Kristen, who leaves the next morning. 

Adam’s mission of making the couple in the other room uncomfortable does work out, considering all Ben could think about was what would be Adam’s type. He is, of course, not at all insecure about his own relationship with Tessa anymore, and he doesn’t think twice before blurting out that Adam must be into Asian women who are cute and small. That only proves what a horrendous piece of garbage Ben is, if you consider he just described his own girlfriend. At least he realizes it, and then he casually retreats to Tessa not looking “that much” Asian. It’s like the dude is on a mission to plant as many red flags as possible. It also justifies Tessa lying to Ben about not seeing Kristen. 

Now coming to This Closeness‘ ending, Tessa can’t wait to get out of the house, and she stresses about leaving before they see Adam again. What happened here is that she doesn’t think of Adam as the epitome of nicety anymore, most certainly due to his antics last night. But the entire experience of staying in the apartment over the weekend has also shown her this side of Ben, which was always there, but she probably ignored it until now. Tessa and Ben are nothing alike, anyway. Unlike Ben, who still lives deep in nostalgia, Tessa is a person who keeps growing in life (and in people). However, even people who are diametrically opposite in nature can stay in a healthy relationship if there’s understanding and mutual respect. Ben, unfortunately, seems to lack IQ, and he most definitely doesn’t respect his girlfriend. There’s no valid reason for Tessa to be with this guy. Does she break up, though? The film doesn’t tell us. Instead, it leaves us with Ben asking her to get in the car and Tessa hesitating. If that’s not a sign of what’s to come, then what is?


However, Tessa going upstairs and being with someone like Adam is a downright ludicrous theory. While it’s true that both Tessa and Adam are inherently lonely and a bit of attention is like an elixir for them, it’s also true that Tessa doesn’t actually consider Adam as a romantic possibility. Adam might be a catalyst for Tessa finally letting Ben go, but he can never be the solution. I would even consider the chances of Tessa actually getting into the car with Ben and continuing the relationship for much longer. That’ll only make her more miserable, though, because men like Ben can never be fixed. This Closeness started with Adam making the bed in Tessa and Ben’s room (prior to their arrival) while an ASMR narration of Tessa about sleep played in the background. It’s only fitting that Adam would lie down on the same bed and wrap himself up with the bedsheets in the end. I’m still not sure what to make of him in terms of good and bad, but Kit Zauhar is definitely a force to be reckoned with, both as an actor and a director.

Rohitavra Majumdar
Rohitavra Majumdar
Rohitavra likes to talk about movies, music, photography, food, and football. He has a government job to get by, but all those other things are what keep him going.

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