My opinion of this film has fluctuated greatly in the week since I’ve seen it. Initially I was disappointed. Here was a film that was obviously intended as a play. Firstly, there is nothing on which to feast the eyes: this is very much a point and shoot film (excepting some very tacky slow zooms). Secondly all the characters talk like they’re in a play, the dialogue resembling nothing you’d hear in real life. I was in fact angered by the statements the film seemed to be making, which without giving anything away weren’t exactly positive…

But that was before a friend explained the end to me…
Ahah! Now it has dawned on me…

I feel I should warn any readers in advance that I actually missed a crucial part of the narrative when I watched the film. I wish to make a public apology: there’s no way someone who regularly reviews films should make such a terrible blunder. I shall be out the back of the offices performing penance for the next 6 weeks (which primarily involves eating orange coloured fruit and watching such predictable films such as The Glass House and anything with Jennifer Lopez until I have realised the error of my ways).

CloserNow that I have had the film explained to me, Closer is much better. There are some wonderful characters – Clive Owen in particular stands out. His performance is fantastic, and completely different from his earlier roles in films such as King Arthur, The Bourne Identity and TV’s ‘Second Sight’. Here is a man who wields truth like some sort of club, and everything about him is aggressive (even if we never see him be physically violent). Natalie Portman does a great job again here (as she did in Garden State), and she handles the scene in the strip club with such confidence that you can’t help but wonder about what is going through Alice’s mind at the time.

The other two leads were less impressive. Jude Law plays the usual bastard – charming at first but quickly becoming repulsive. Why is it that so many females swoon at a guy that only plays dickheads? And Julia Roberts’ Anna seems to be the least developed of all the characters. At no point did I really understand her motivation, she just seemed to wander from one situation to another.

This is a very focused piece, and there are pretty much no supporting characters whatsoever (in fact only 6 people are credited). It’s a harsh and unrelenting tale of sex, love, betrayal and everything in between. There isn’t much to like about these people so don’t go expecting to be left with a warm fuzzy feeling. My only remaining qualm is that it isn’t very realistic. These people are extremes. Maybe I’ve just been lucky enough never to meet anyone like Alice, Dan, Anna or Larry, but I always felt like I was watching caricatures rather than real people.

Rating: 4.0 stars
Review by Stuart Wilson, 15th February 2005
Hoopla Factor: 3.0 stars

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