Closer (2004)

by | Oct 11, 2005 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

Closer (2004)

Starring:  Julia Roberts, Jude Law, Natalie Portman, Clive Owen
Studio:  Columbia Pictures
Video:  1.85:1 Widescreen Enhanced 
Audio:   DTS 5.1, DD 5.1, French 2.0
Extras:   Previews (Guess Who, Spanglish, Bewitched), Music Video “The Blower’s Daughter” performed by Damien Rice
Length:  104 minutes
Rating:  ?

This review is one of the hardest I’ve ever written—not because I can’t
think of much to say, but because I have too much to say.  The
other problem is that I can’t really decide if I like it or not. 
There are films that I like and films that I believe are good and they
aren’t always the same.  We all have guilty pleasures that we
like, but are hesitant to recommend to others and call “good.” And
there are others that are “good” but never seem to inspire us to really
care for them.  Sometimes a film takes more than viewing to
appreciate, and other times it just doesn’t ever strike a chord with
the viewer.  It isn’t necessary to like a character (or
characters), yet that character usually needs to be sympathetic (to the
viewer) in some way or another.  When a story is as simple as this
one, it is the characters that make all the difference.  Another
movie that Mike Nichols directed many years ago comes to mind—Carnal
Knowledge.  After watching that film I was struck in a way that is
almost indescribable.  It was one of those screenings where
thoughts are bubbling and you can’t wait to discuss it with another,
or, just sit for a long time and think about your life and its
meaning.  This is not one of those films.  Or perhaps it is,
but in an entirely different way.  As for the likeability of the
film–the characters were too transparent, too shallow, and didn’t get
my sympathy.  Taking the argument from another angle and pointing
out that perhaps, this is really how people are: They make mistakes,
have quirks, pursue people they shouldn’t, do stupid things, hurt
themselves, refuse to acknowledge feelings, and seem to be stuck in
this inexorable hole–called life–that keeps them from being
happy.  As for themes, how about:  Love, hurt, humanity,
betrayal, perversion, self-deprecation, and obsession?

Still interested?  But where is the entertainment value?  The
moral lesson?  The joke?  The edification of any sort? 
Ok, I’m wrong.  There is something this movie does have and that
is the ability to evoke an emotional response in the viewer.  And
this it does extremely well.  I went from interest, to dislike, to
indifference.  Yet, I wasn’t satisfied with that and felt
powerless to describe my feelings to others.  This meant delaying
the review, putting the movie on the shelf, and viewing it fresh, once
again.  I realized that from the first moments when the viewer is
treated to the sad, haunting melody by Damien Rice playing over
silence  that there is something unique happening.  As we
watch Portman’s bright red-haired character Alice strutting down the
street soon to enrapture the attention of Jude Law’s character she may
be the one exception to characters I didn’t especially like.  She,
at least, was not totally without merit.  She stayed true to her
form and at the end of the film was no more than who she was went she
went in.  Maybe that is the moral lesson?  Things can happen
to you and yet you are who you are.  Or is it that you can’t trust
people, or that love can come and go.  Or maybe I’ll come up with
a new theory and you can call it what you will.  It will
state:  If one person has so little self-image and hates
themselves to the nth degree, then they can inflict harm just by
association with another person.  This is the Jude Law
character.  He is the catalyst for all the badness that results
from all the other characters (save Alice) who is crushed by him, but
manages to get away to start again.  Or is she the catalyst for
the change from the lowly obituary writer to sex fiend to
philander/adulterer.  Who are the real people and who are the

-Brian Bloom

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