Monday, January 17, 2005

POPCORN: Getting "Closer"

Well kiddies, It’s Monday and there is oh too much to blog about coming off the Golden Globe hoopla! Yes, award season is in high gear folks. Before we get down and dirty with the congrats and the superficiality of designer dresses and all that jazz, I finally – FINALLY – got into the theater to see Closer. Due to illness, business, another illness, and my Ben then getting ill, it’s been a chore trying to make it to the movies. I still have The Aviator, A Very Long Engagement, and Million Dollar Baby on my “must see” list before February comes along. Then I’ll post my top 10 films of the year, February 1st.

Okay, and so it is, Closer. (8/10)

"Lying is the best thing a girl can do without taking her clothes off. But it's more fun if you do."

Closer follows the poignant moments over four years in the lives of Alice, Dan, Anna, and Larry. How each couple meets, what tears at them, and how their lives are all intertwine through love, lust, passion, and need.

Closer is adapted from Patrick Marber’s play of the same name. I would love to see this play out on stage only for the sake of intimacy which is so important to the core of Closer. The film, as I said, follows only moments, not grand love stories interwoven. These moments are those which at the end of a relationship, or story, you look back and know that’s the moment that matters. There is so much about the characters and their lives together that we don’t know, which in away, allows us to personally identify with them more. This film is about the basic elements of people, how they love and stop loving each other. Why some leave, and why some don’t.

The film isn’t flashy, glossy, or even muted with a highly styled cinematic mark normally felt by great directors. After all, Mike Nichol’s is the man who delivered The Graduate to our consciousness nearly 40 years ago. Instead, Nichol’s genius is felt in the stripped rawness of this film. The film work is beautiful in it’s simplicity and it stays out of the way of four powerhouse performances that only a highly talented director could pull from his cast.

Natalie Portman delivers the performance of her career playing Alice, the loving and strong stripper, and the only sympathetic character that the film offers. Okay, so maybe that’s not fair. For this film, I believe each character can be viewed differently depending on a views past experiences. I've dated both of these archetypical men, although I must admit, I'm a "Dan" girl. For myself, Alice (Portman) was the only sympathetic character.

Jude Law tackles the role of Dan who is flawed with a weak character with arrogance. Julia Roberts steps outside her sweetheart type casting to play the selfish and artistically depressed Anna who can support herself financially, but not emotionally. Clive Owen’s gives awesome strength to powerful honest realist Larry.

Each of these performances are exceptional, but Portman and Owen really shine as the victimized characters who refuse to ever play the victims.

This is strong film that might be hard to swallow for some due to the roughness of the characters the behind closed doors language they use. While it on a surface level examines infidelity, it delves much deeper to type of people we are, the people we can be, and the people we love. Personal character, both weak and strong, and how that effects every aspect of a relationship, a sort of balancing act, is laid out in this film in a way that has make us examine our own motivations, proclivities, and inner demons. It’s maliciousness at it’s most poetic.


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