Closer (2004) - Review


Most American films are unremarkable, especially those that cover relationships. However, every now and then you find one that ignites something inside you with its originality. With its sleek visual style and sophisticated dialogue, Mike Nichols’ 2004 Neo Romance film Closer is just that.

I stated that the spark I got from this film came from its originality and that is a bit of a lie. It’s challenge to make a valid claim of originality when the screenplay for Closer is based upon Patrick Marber’s 1997 play of the same name. Marber also wrote the screenplay and was able to capture the same seductive sense of sensual awareness and emotional complexity as the play.

The dialogue truly is my favorite part of this film, because it’s biting, harsh, sometimes aloof, but always grounded in reality. My favorite exchange comes about half way through the film. It is an argument between Anna (Julia Roberts) and Larry (Clive Owen).

It is in this scene that the characters really hit upon that reality I alluded to before. Larry has been betrayed and he feels hurt and angry. Even though he’s furious he can’t help but prod at the issue, a morbid curiosity perhaps. At first Anna tries to be demure and tactful, but Larry continues probing. Eventually he forces Anna to admit the truths she’d rather not tell. I think we can all understand that sentiment.

Speaking of characters, I loved all of them. Of course, there are Larry and Anna (Owen & Roberts) but this movie actually has four people entangled in the pulls of passion. Jude Law plays Dan a charming and kind yet devious obituary writer and Natalie Portman plays Alice a smart yet immature temptress. Other than a few brief instances of interaction, these four characters drive the entire film. That choice was daring, but it definitely paid off.

Closer simply oozes sophisticated sex appeal, which is a rare accomplishment in a film without a single sex scene. I feel as if the lack of literal sex was a purposeful omission. That lack of visualized sex forces the audience fill in the blanks, which is much more titillating on a personal level.

Closer’s rich sensuality is also accomplished by the clean, modern and almost hazy editing & cinematography. Considering the subject matter and its mid 1990’s London setting, the dreary yet seductive visual style is well suited. Closer is also filled with many beautifully captured quiet moments, whispers and close conversations, which all add to the overall sex appeal of the film.  

Overall Closer is a daring and polarizing film. Those who enjoy the subtleties of sex and relationships will pick up on the films surprisingly rich emotional experience. Those who don’t may find the film pompous or boring. Either way, this film is one of my favorites and definitely worth a watch.

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