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Movie Review: Closer (9/10)

Posted on December 22nd, 2004 filed in Movie Reviews    |   

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Summary:

On a busy London street, while heading to his job as an obituary journalist, Dan (Jude Law) notices gorgeous Alice (Natalie Portman), a part time fuschia-haired stripper that just moved from New York. Eyes meet, sparks fly and she fails to notice the cab heading in her direction. Dan, rescuing the damsel in distress, takes her to the hospital while under serious infatuation.

Fast forward a year later. Dan and Alice now live together and Dan has written a book about his new love. While having his picture taken by Anna (Julia Roberts) for the cover of his book, he hits on her and gets rejected. He then fixes her up with a buddy sex-freak dermatologist as a revenge prank but they end up as an item and actually get married. Dan remains seriously attracted to Anna and that can only mean trouble for both couples.

Review:

Mike Nichols (The Graduate, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf) latest work addresses, with amazing brutality and force, the honesty, deception, lust, possession, control, manipulation, and self destruction that are common elements of many (if not most) relationships today. And he strikes out.

Aided by a first class cast, and a script that was initially made for stage and later on skillfully adpated to the screen by its author Patrick Marber, Closer is a disturbing film that shocks with its raw vulgarity yet seriously draws with the haunting performances of all four stars.

As with other stage scipts that rely mostly on interaction between characters (Enigma Variations and Art come to mind) , Closer demands overreaching performances and the cast comes through, without exception. Each of the four completely absorbs his or her character and delivers near flawless performance rendering one fascinated and absorbed by their world of deception and lies. It is an amazing feat to observe how their insistance on honesty post betrayal leads them closer and closer to complete disintegration and more into a dark place where hatred for each other, revenge, and destruction reign.

Julia Roberts is at her best as Anna; a dissatisfied and confused woman. You feel with her and actually understand her sorrow, desire, distress, anger, confusion and guilt . I can’t recall a more memorable performance (I still love Pretty Woman but that’s a different story altogether).

Natalie Portman is quite a gem here. She is an innocent stripper, wild yet wounded, clingy yet completely detached, confident yet lost and old beyond her years. She has matured quite rapidly since Star Wars and has blossomed overnight into this sexual bombshell (To think of Mike Nichols reportedly had initially included some full frontal nudity of natalie yet later on decided against including it in the final cut…Damn you Mike :) ).

The most powerful tour-de-force here is undoubtedly Clive Owen. He remains the only character that lies and deception do not bring down and destroy. Quite the opposite. He gets angrier with each and thus more powerful and capable of destruction and ruthless revenge.

One of the movie’s highlights is the opening and closing melancholic ‘Blower’s Daughter’ song by Damien Rice’s deep and haunting voice. The powerful rendition of ‘Can’t get my eyes off of you…’ perfectly illustrates, at first, the deep yearning of love or lust, but, then, of course, he proceeds ’till I find someone new’ . Can’t think of a more perfect match for this movie.

I can’t take my eyes off of you
I can’t take my eyes off of you
I can’t take my eyes off of you
I can’t take my eyes off of you
I can’t take my eyes off of you
I can’t take my eyes…

Did I say that I loathe you?
Did I say that I want to
Leave it all behind?

I can’t take my mind off of you
I can’t take my mind off of you…
I can’t take my mind off of you
I can’t take my mind off of you
I can’t take my mind off of you
I can’t take my mind…
My mind…my mind…
‘Til I find somebody new

For an honest and raw look at 21st century relationships and deceit, it can’t get better than ‘Closer’. Highly recommended for adults only.

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