I am the first to admit that this is not a movie that I would usually watch, but with Children of Men and Sin City I developed a major man-crush on Clive Owen for a week or so (there were posters on my wall and everything!), so I thought I’d give Closer a try.
And while it still is not my preferred genre or even type of film, Closer is about as good as I could imagine a dramatic back and forth anti-romance film could be.
Not that I’ve put much thought into it.
Setting = London
Step 1: A quite literally ‘accidental’ meeting brings reserved British journalist Dan (Jude Law) and flirtatious and spunky young American stripper (if only) Alice (Natalie Portman) together.
Over time Alice inspires Dan to break his workaday shackles and he branches out and writes a novel, with the primary character loosely based upon Alice and her troubled life to date.
Step 2: During the session booked to take photos for the dust-cover of Dan’s soon to be released novel he meets photographer Anna (Julia Roberts). As Alice inspired Dan to write, Anna similarly inspires him… to cheat on Alice.
Step 3: Dan fudges around in internet chat rooms and decides to mess with Anna, directing a horny chat-partner to facilitate a meeting, unbeknownst to her. This meeting is initially embarrassing for both parties, but ends with Anna and Dentist Larry (Clive Owen *swoon*) hitting it off and moving in together.
And thus our Quartet of Awkwardness is officially introduced, and we spend the remainder of the film as they insult, chat up and lie to each other in the name of love.
Closer is a different type of film and by no means a rom-com despite the 4 pretty people on the cover. In fact in their own way each of the leads are particularly flawed, especially the guys. Dan is fickle and often disloyal, especially once he becomes obsessed, actually fixated by Anna, and Larry is boorish and arrogant, talking to Anna in an exceedingly crass manner even when things are going well.
The film fast forwards through time on occasion, never actually stating for how long or explaining what we missed except for snippets of dialogue, hence viewers not paying attention might get lost at times. The dialogue is frank, occasionally sexually descriptive and often painful to listen to, with straight out lies and embarrassing truths being shared in intense and quite personal confrontations, many of which don’t end with a “sorry” and mutual hug.
It’s actually all very adult drama really… but even if you’re the type – like me normally – that would curl up their nose in disgust at such news I would at least defend Closer by saying that it is very well made and acted, even Julia Roberts who I normally find reprehensible is vaguely human in this. Jude Law is alternately smarmy and desperate, Natalie Portman basically plays the most innocent and honest of the foursome and Clive Owen is commanding as Larry the brutish dentist, his eyebrows should have been nominated for awards for their role in this film.
Closer is the anti rom-com, never easy to watch, impossible to choose who to root for and with erudite conversations that don’t drown in their own cleverness.
All of those are reasons for recommendation by the way.
Final Rating – 7 / 10. This is one story without a Hollywood happy ending, and that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it a shot.