- Mike Nichols
- Reviewed by
- Gon Curiel a.k.a. Groucho
- Review date
- Wednesday, January 19, 2005
Closer is a good example of this. Patrick Marberís play really surprised and became a huge hit, and now it has become a movie. Not a shocker when you see what itís about and how itís handled. Itís one of the most real and honest movies I have seen in some years concerning relationships. Itís a sort of Annie Hall (1977) without Woody, and with a different kind of story, but with the same accuracy in pointing out what makes a relationship tick and what some people have on their minds and how they handle it. Itís a majestic depiction of simple human psychology and that makes it, at least in my book, a must-see.
The story has, as I said, four characters. First there are Alice (Natalie Portman) and Dan (Jude Law), who meet each other when she gets hit by a car on the street. Nothing serious, but he helps her out, and they start a relationship. Fast forward to some time later, when Dan meets photographer Anna (Julia Roberts), and they both fall in lust with each other immediately. Alice notices, but she still loves Dan, who still loves her. But Anna is on Danís mind and wonít let go, so he adds another element to the game: An incidental internet chatter, Larry (Clive Owen), who becomes Annaís lover and in ways a victim of some vicious games.
Closer can seem repetitious at times and make no mistake, it is repetitious: People come and go and come and go and make the same mistakes twice or thrice or even more times. Here we see Dan and Anna going through the same over and over and Alice and Larry becoming victims once and again, but the twist comes when it turns out Alice and Larry are not willing to be victims forever, and they play their cards. Of course the reaction of each is completely different, but that doesnít mean any of the two is not deadly interesting.
In the end, as a matter of fact, it is Alice and Larry we get to care for and remember afterwards. It also helps that the performances are flawless, but the fact is, the characters are written with that intention in mind. Especially Larry, who would be the person you would care less about in the beginning, and easily becomesÖ well, something else.
Mike Nicholsí direction might not be outstanding, but it fares better than most of his screen work from the last few years. Marberís adaptation of his own play, however, is what takes first chair in this spectacle. Itís a treat seeing these people act like they do, even if it seems theatrical or exaggerated at times, and itís Marber we should thank. I was taken aback more than once by the proceedings though mostly nothing I saw was really extraordinary or unbelievable. Thatís the magic of it. Marber writes about life, and situations we can all identify with. Yet, itís something well-worth seeing no matter who you are or how many deceptions and satisfactions you have gotten in your life.
Just to make them justice, Roberts and Law do great jobs. However, as I said, Portman and especially Owen own the show. Heck, this is Owenís show. Portman performs excellently and is hotter than ever, but her character is simply not as juicy. OwenÖ oh my God. And to think he originated the role of Dan on stage, and now he plays LarryÖ One would say he was born to play Larry. Shows what a talented man he is.
ďIt tastes like you but sweeter.Ē
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Other reviews of Closer (2004): Morris
- Mike Nichols
- Reviewed by
- Josť Ruiloba a.k.a. Morris
- Review date
- Thursday, March 03, 2005
Dan (Jude Law) is an obituary writer in London who meets Alice (Natalie Portman), an American stripper, by chance when she is hit by a car. They move together but things get complicated once Dan falls for Anna (Julia Roberts), a photographer who takes his picture for a book he wrote based on Alice. Enter Larry (Clive Owen), a doctor who meets Anna and is instantly smitten.
Closer is based on Patrick Marberís play of the same name. He adapted it as a screenplay and did a splendid job. Of course, the play remains almost intact, but the big screen gives it a fourth dimension that is hard to describe. It is also remarkable how the movie does feel theatrical but does not lose its power because thereís so much action going on... with words only. If you look closer (pun intended) youíd be shocked to realize the little amount of sets in the movie. It is literally composed of long, extended scenes of dialogue that grow momentum and complement each other right to the end, even when long periods of time have passed from one to the other.
Whatís striking about this work of art is how uncovered we are as human beings. Closer dissects relationships and exposes them bare, leaving a sort of open wound that deeply hurts. The characters here do cruel, damaging things to each other because thatís what their hearts dictate. And who doesnít follow their hearts? Who doesnít relate to some of the things the movie shows in some degree? Itís an ugly picture the one we are left to deal with, to the point of realizing itís scary. The things we are willing to do, the places we are willing to go...
Closer touches on themes of pride, power, infidelity, depression, honesty, and using sex as a weapon. It is an adult film in the truest sense of the word. It delves into the complicated world of relationships in a franker way than weíre used to. There are those who are weak and those who are strong. There are those who are more intelligent and those who are more visceral. And then there are those who can be all of these things. Thereís a scene in which a character dangerously dances around the line in which his/her relationship could completely tremble only because he/she wants to know the truth, nothing but the truth. Who can blame him/her? And thereís a scene in which a character almost begs the other to lie to him/her, because the truth might be more wounding. And again... who can blame him/her? Weíre complicated, contrasting individuals, we humans. And thatís the meat of every day. But sometimes itís also our perdition.
I just mentioned a couple of scenes in the last paragraph, but whatís striking is that every single scene in the movie is extraordinary, delving into the psyche of the characters and not letting go. The dialogue is rich, and even though people donít speak like that in real life, it feels honest and you can sense its weight. Add Mike Nicholsí expert hand behind the camera and youíve got a striking cinematic experience from every angle.
It also helps to have such a talented cast embodying Dan, Alice, Anna and Larry. Every one of them is perfect. Jude Law may have the least showy role of all, but heís still impeccable. Julia Roberts plays against-type and admirably manages to transform Anna into her own... a flawed, weak individual behind a strong, confident poise. Clive Owen chews every scene heís in with an animal-like intensity and gaze. And Natalie Portman plays a character who starts up being the most innocent, but who evolves into something quite different as time goes by. Sheís luminous.
Itís also rewarding and worthy of applause to get to see a movie where all the characters are actually intelligent, literate people. As a matter of fact, everything about this movie is worthy of praise. And that also includes the brilliant use of Damien Riceís "The Blower's Daughter" to exemplify a cycle, for life is one... people just donít change.
A devastating, thoughtful examination of life as it is.
ďI know who you are. I love you. I love everything about you that hurts.Ē
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Other reviews of Closer (2004): Groucho