Closer

| December 5, 2004

Directed by the wonderful Mike Nichols (The Graduate, Angels in America), and based on the play by Patrick Marber (who thankfully also wrote the screenplay), Closer is a heart-wrenching tale of love, deceit, revenge, and betrayal. Although this kind of thing can get old (as was the case with a film that came out earlier this year – We Don’t Live Here Anymore), Closer made it seem as if I had never heard or seen a tale quite like this one before. On the surface it seems to just be another story about two couples and their adulteries, and the broken hearts that follow… but the difference is that Closer is good. Really good. Nichols’ directing, Marber’s screenplay, and the performances of Natalie Portman, Jude Law, Julia Roberts, and Clive Owen blend together almost seamlessly.
However, Roberts’ performance was almost laughable when juxtaposed with the amazing Portman. Portman gave a surprising depth to the role of Alice, making the audience question her motivation for her actions, and wonder what is going on behind those beautiful eyes of hers. In that aspect, Portman’s performance was flawless, a quality that I have come to expect from her, while Roberts’ portrayal of Anna was mediocre at best. I almost vomited when she was trying to convince Law’s character Dan to stay with her – I didn’t find a single word she uttered even remotely sincere or heartfelt. I suppose my disdain for her performance might be partly due to Cate Blanchett’s absence in the film. Blanchett originally had the part of Anna but had to pull out due to pregnancy. As I was aware of that fact months before viewing Closer, I could not help but imagine Blanchett in the role the entire film, and since I adore her, I could not bring myself to appreciate Roberts’ adequate (though miles from excellent) performance. I just know without a fraction of a doubt that Blanchett would have done a better job. However, Roberts’ less than stellar performance becomes almost trivial, since the other three main actors – Portman, Law, and Owen – each do outstanding jobs.
One characteristic of Closer that may cause discordance with certain people is the sudden and extreme time lapses. There are no dissolves, no fades, and no other techniques to distinguish time from scene to scene – the audience is suddenly thrown into a situation that could be anywhere from weeks to a year later than the previous scene, and we’re expected to keep up. Although this technique could wear thin, it ”t bother me at all. I love it when a film moves so quickly that it always stays a step ahead of me. That way it keeps me guessing, unlike so many other dramas that are being released nowadays.
The main fact that sets Closer apart from so many other films is that it is so intelligent and honest that it becomes almost hurtful to watch. Although the characters may be viewed as despicable, there is probably something in each of them to which every one of us can relate. I almost understood their actions, and searched for a way to redeem them, for them to be happy again. I don’t know if I have ever wanted characters to just let themselves be happy so badly. It is such a well-done film. Don’t miss seeing it in the theatre!

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