There are lots of ways to communicate that two characters are close. I’ve compiled a list of my favorite tools from the romance toolbox. These are tried and true methods and can work in any genre for developing both romantic and platonic relationships.
One of the most obvious tools in the romance toolbox for showing close relationships between characters is simply to have them touch each other. Don’t worry, I don’t mean explicit touching. This isn’t a how-to for writing naughty love scenes. When I say “touching,” I mean casual touches. People who are close simply touch each other more.
It divides your characters into distinct categories: Those who know, and those who don’t. And that is a huge deal. When you have two characters sharing a secret, it creates a bond of trust between them. It separates them intellectually from everyone else.
This awareness gig is one of the more subtle tools in the romance toolkit. It requires context. If Rick had used the phrase “You’re in her seat” in order to clear a space next to her brother (and not next to Rick himself), it would have communicated vastly less about their relationship.
If character awareness is the lock pick in the romance toolbox, then accidental nudity is the sledgehammer. There is zero subtlety when it comes to one character seeing another in a state of undress, but sometimes it’s exactly the right tool for the job.
The director blocked these two characters this way intentionally. Even though there was no hint of a closer relationship in the script yet, they needed to prime the audience for it subconsciously. That way, when they do start to look at each other differently, it doesn’t come out of left field.