Producers: Cary Brokaw, John Calley, Robert
Fox, Mike Nichols, Scott Rudin
Written by: Patrick Marber
Cast: Natalie Portman, Jude Law, Julia Roberts,
As if we hadn’t already seen enough of the ubiquitous Jude
Law, here he is again, playing a tortured romantic. Because
of his and Julia Roberts’ name on the billing,
I assumed Closer would be a typical romantic chick flick,
complete with sappy dialogue and bittersweet, if not happy ending.
I was wrong. Closer is about relationships, sure, but romance?
Not quite. Sappy? Absolutely not.
Closer is an edgy commentary on the interactions of people
in terms of sex and love. It was originally written as a play, also
by Patrick Marber, which made its debut on the
London stage in 1997. The play won various awards, including the
Laurence Olivier/BBC Award for Best New Play, and
was later made into a Broadway production. The film’s theater
roots are visible through the use of only four main characters (everyone
else is just part of the backdrop, populating the city, etc.), and
the way the passage of time is indicated through the dialogue (e.g.
“We’ve been seeing each other for a year now.”).
Though the focus on only four characters adapts seamlessly to the
screen, the issue of time can be jarring at first to moviegoers
accustomed to seeing subtitles that read “one year later.”
What makes it more confusing is that throughout the four-year span
of the story, the characters continue to wear the same clothes,
have generally the same hairstyle, and give no visual clues as to
We don’t know too much about any of the characters except
their occupations. Alice (Portman), an ex-stripper
from New York who came to London to escape a relationship, plans
to drift about with no real goals in mind. When she first arrives,
she meets literally by accident Dan (Law), an obituary writer for
a London newspaper. They end up living together, and Dan is apparently
so inspired by her that he writes a book based on Alice’s
life. However, while taking a portrait shot for the cover of said
book, Dan falls in love with the photographer, Anna (Roberts), and
becomes obsessed with her. When she declines a relationship with
him, Dan sets up a practical joke by pretending to be Anna in an
online chat room. In a strange twist of events, after the real Anna
meets Dan’s online correspondent Larry (Owen),
Anna and Larry unexpectedly fall for each other. Later, Larry meets
Alice, and is mesmerized by her until he remembers he is with Anna.
Closer is a movie about loneliness and deception and
the pain of relationships. It is about not knowing what makes oneself
happy, or knowing but not being able to achieve it. The sweetest
moments occur only when two people first meet each other, when it
seems that all the problems of the world have been solved. Beyond
the beginning, the relationship becomes one of doubt and dissatisfaction,
complete with crude and angry dialogue. The movie is about the meeting
of strangers and how being in a relationship doesn’t necessarily
mean that two people are no longer strangers. No character in Closer
is particularly likeable, and the story is never about rooting for
two people to get together, as in romantic movies. A feel-good love
story this is not.
Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.
Itís worth a full-price ticket.
Itís worth a matinee ticket.
Wait for video rental.
Check out the video from the library, if you must.
While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...