It’s important to understand in TLJ that we see Ben through Rey’s perspective, and he is 100% shown to be her love interest.
Shots like these
are literally shown
from Rey’s perspective.
Her view of Ben is intentionally emphasized throughout the entire movie because when compared to other scenes of Ben, when Rey is absent, he is not shown as gentle as this.
I highlight the word gentle here because allow me to introduce the shots of Ben when he’s not seen from Rey’s perspective.
Shots like these
Are not shown from Rey’s perspective.
There is a clear distinction between how the rest of the galaxy sees Ben and how Rey sees Ben.
So that’s why when we see this scene:
We are absolutely heartbroken because for Rey—after seeing Ben so gentle and soft—she now sees the man that the rest of the galaxy sees.
The worst part for her, though, is that she knows this is not who Ben truly is. She knows that he’s still conflicted.
He’s her love interest your honor. They have a romantic connection to each other and somehow have to navigate it while being on opposite sides of a war.
This is why Rey hesitates to take his hand—why she desperately wants to even though she knows he’s still conflicted.
To everyone else, when Ben is angry, he doesn’t get the reaction of complete heartbreak. He is feared. ButRey has seen Ben at his core, and so she could never be scared of him because she knows it’s all a mask. She knows he defends himself with a rigid outer shell to hide his vulnerability and compassion.
It’s why she even says it so clearly in TROS:
“I see through the cracks in your mask.”
It’s why we’re given hope at the end of TLJ when the bond flickers back to life and we see this shot:
Because this is Rey’s perspective, and the man she fell for is not angry anymore, but full of regret.
The last time Rey sees Ben in TLJ is a reminder that he is not truly gone, and he can still come back.
In fact, this scene reassures her that not all hope is gone.
So when she closes the door on him, it’s only a warning. A warning that she will not be as easy on him next time. A warning that he won’t be met with forgiveness right away.
Rey sets her boundaries, but she doesn’t give up because it all implies that there will be a next time—that she doesn’t intend to leave Ben alone.