The Good

The Bad

I think the reason why so many people found Closer to be such a mean spirited movie has a lot to do with the casualness with which the people within the movie conducted themselves. There seemed to be no thought for anybody else's feelings other then when they were breaking the other person’s heart. On top of all this, even the people you think might have some redeemable qualities, all turn out to be just as bad as the other people you have grown to dislike over the 104 minutes that Closer plays.

In a nutshell, Closer tells the story of 2 couples whose lives intersect. They are all drawn together, they start cheating together and then things end up how they were before the cheating started. Sort of. If this description of the movie seems simplistic, or easy ... know that it was based on play. There are no other main actors in this movie other then the 4 main stars. While this certainly gives you a lot of “star power wattage” for your viewing dollar, it doesn’t do a whole lot to give you some air if you find yourself needing a break from these people.

Overall, I thought Closer was a pretty good movie. It speaks to a lot of truths about the male/female relationship. It really examines why we hurt people, especially when we know that we are hurting them. I felt that this expose in the movie, really lent it a lot of weight in terms of getting this down. All of us have either cheated in a relationship, known people who have cheated or at the very least thought about cheating. It’s just a fact of human life. I think there is something self-destructive in all of us that never feels satisfied. Because of this we feel the need to destroy things in our own lives for no reason other then we’re bored, angry or temporarily mad about something. This movie really hits on this topic and because of that, I think that a lot of people we’re put off simply because Closer forces the viewer to confront the animal in all of us.

The acting in this movie is really good. I know that seeing Julia Roberts play a “harsher” character is supposed to be a shock, especially when we’re all used to her being this funny, quick witted dame in romantic comedies...but I got the sense that the character that Julia was playing is actually more in line with who she might be if she didn’t always have to be in front of the cameras. Jude Law is perfect playing the “lovable cad”, but again it’s sort of hard to sympathize with someone whose character seems to go out of their way to bring their problems on them. Natalie Portman certainly showed me why she was nominated for an Academy Award, and who knew that she could so convincingly play a stripper? Granted, her portrayal is the Hollywood, glamour job of the being a stripper, I was still impressed that a “golden girl” like her could be so dirty. The best character out of the lot, and he seems to win mainly by attrition, is Clive Owen. He is so brutally honest in his role, he wears his heart on his sleeve, that it seems like the circumstances of his life are what force him to eventually come down to the level of the other characters.

Closer was a solid if not spectacular look at the lives of 4 people. It speaks many truths about relationships, and on certain levels it is so true that I am not sure that people are going to be all fired up to go see it. In fact, in many ways, with Mike Nichols directing this movie, it seems like it could have been an HBO film(I say this because I know he has made some successful films for them). And it may have played better there. Closer is so harsh at times, that I wonder if people really want to “pony up” money to be made miserable?

Features

Music Video - Damien Rice’s “The Blower’s Daughter”

This is a video for the main song of Closer. It is mixed with imagery and shots from the movie as the sad strains of “The Blowers Daughter” play over it. I am not a fan of music videos. I just don’t like or more importantly don’t get them. This isn’t to say that you won’t, I just think that maybe I would have rather have had this song just be on this disk laid over a black background. Or, perhaps it just could have been clips from the movie. Don’t get me wrong, all the artistic footage is shot very well...I just am not that big a fan of the medium with which it was all presented. I do like this song. It has a sad hopefulness to it that I wished Closer had more of.

Video

1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen. If ever a movie could have gotten away with being full screen, Closer is it. I say this because on the surface this is a movie I would really like. It is a dialogue feast. Good actors. Interesting story line. It all seemed to have the makings of my kind of film. There aren’t any amazing vistas. Any shots that require deft camera movements of any sort, so I truly would have been fine if this movie had pan and scans all over it. As such, in this format the movie looked really good. The transfer was really clear and as this is one of those “superbit” DVDs, I actually wasn’t surprised that things looked this way. In fact, I think it’s almost funny that this movie was given such a high quality treatment. Not that it was bad or good, it’s just that for what was essentially a stage play, this movie really is given a lot bells and whistles on DVD. It seems like almost a waste of the widescreen and superbit technology, only because that stuff is exactly what this wasn’t intended for. I may be wrong but I will say that Closer looks really good even if what is happening on screen isn’t.

Audio

English 5.1 Dolby Digital DTS. French Dolby Surround. As I mentioned above, this is truly the definition of a dialogue movie. As such, sound is very important. This movie is 100% dependent on the performances of it’s players. It has no special effects or sight gags to back it up. It is almost solely dependent on the dialogue. It has to be crisp. It has be delivered well. It has to evoke all the emotions that other films hide behind with the use of special fx. It is in this regard that I think Closer succeeds the most. It is a triumph of dialogue. Of inflection. Of the ability to just have actors act and let words carry the story and the scene. In fact, I think that many people who have had a negative reaction to this movie, but can watch grotesque scenes of violence in other movies with no effect...are just not used to having their emotions really rattled. That is the thing about this movie, it kills you on an emotional level. It is powerful. It makes you think about a lot of things that you probably don’t want to think about. It’s maybe because it hits home too much, it’s maybe because it doesn’t hit home enough or it could be because you are afraid of it hitting home.

Package

Very simple stuff here. Just the faces of Julia, Jude, Clive and Natalie. I think it’s interesting how all these people are staring straight ahead. Focused, not looking at the other person. Very much touching on how they conduct themselves within the confines of this movie. This picture has a white border on the top and bottom. In red letters it says, Closer. The back features various shots from the movie of these characters sharing intimate moments. There is a very small description of this movie’s contents as well as some technical specifications about the DVD. Nothing too special here, and for some reason I don’t think that this will be the only DVD release of this movie. I only say this because the film won some awards, and it was nominated for some awards and due to this I think that the people behind the movie will probably find extra ancillary angles. Whether it’s in the form of deleted scenes, the actors talking about their roles, or maybe some more slicked up packaging?

Final Word

Closer is one of those movies that deals with the “sufferings of the upper classes”. It shows people who are really good looking, for the most part have perfect lives and then seem to spare no expense in screwing it up. It was very hard to empathize, sympathize or do any “ize” with these characters simply because no matter how bad their lives got, well, one was a doctor, one was a writer, one was a photographer, one was a stripper, they all had money ... you see my point? There was never any moment where it seemed like these people really had that much to lose? I mean, so what if they lost each other, isn’t that what they ultimately wanted? Isn’t that what they were inadvertently trying to accomplish?

It is for this reason that Closer was a very hard film to care about. It’s like how do you stop somebody who’s jumping? These people all sabotaged themselves for a few fleeting moments pleasure that made them no happier then they were before. Even the characters who you think might be above this, really aren’t. They engage in the very despicable acts that their partners do, the only difference is that in someway it seems like they are trying to justify this. Or say that this is how life is. And this may very well be how life is ... so that means that we don’t do anything to change it?

Closer was released December 1, 2004.