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CLOSER (2004) - R
If it's love, why do you walk away? In a psychologically mind-bending, thought provoking film, CLOSER brings to life the details and nuances of four characters and their intricately woven lives connected by a string of intimate inquiries and affairs. CLOSER unveils the truth behind infidelity, abandonment, loneliness, and the quest for real love.
Directed by: Mike Nichols.
Tagline: If it's love, why do you walk away?
CLOSER follows the lives of four complete strangers and slowly weaves their tales together through evolving and dissolving relationships. With the character Alice used as a sort of perspective through which to view the film CLOSER opens with her breathtaking presence capturing the attention of obituary journalist Daniel amid a sea of people on the crowded London streets. In a very dramatically artistic scene of intense emotional build-up, what ensues is a car accident... Alice being hit as she walks the corner intently focused on this mysterious foreigner.
With Daniel's guilty conscience at hand, he takes Alice to the hospital whereby witty banter prompts sparks to fly. The rest is history, until one year later when Daniel's sudden influx of inspiration causes him to write a book about none other than, Alice. In need of a headshot for the book jacket, Daniels heads over to Anna's office/flat for a professional session. Taken aback by her beauty however, the hopeless romantic impulsively kisses the more than willing woman.
With Alice discovering their brief interlude immediately thereafter the movie jumps ahead, again for one year, with Alice and Daniel still together and Anna and Daniel having parted ways. Meanwhile, still not wholly over her beauty, despite the radiant angelic rival that is his own partner, Alice, Dan persists, and, soon the affair begins; Alice unknowing.
But this time Anna is not only betraying Alice's trust, which isn't altogether there, but also the trust of her new boyfriend, soon to be husband, Dr. Larry. With a cheeky scene involving Internet dating, another reality check in the film, it seems Daniels and Dr. Larry already know each other. What’s more, the very result of their brief interlude seems to have been the catalyst that spawned the relationship between Larry and Anna. One year later Larry and Anna marry, and on Dr. Larry’s first conference to the states he returns home to his new wife to unveil his brief sexual fling overseas. But what he doesn’t know is that Anna is about to unload her dirty past, which she has hidden all the way to the altar.
As Anna and Daniel break their lovers' hearts what ensues is a series of betrayals and mistrusts until, in the end, an uncanny stability emerges between at least two of the four characters. The other two, however, seem to have one too many deceits to put behind them, and thus CLOSER concludes in poetic fashion, with its ending mirroring its beginning. But the plot has developed a transformation, and the final scene captures the change in a beautiful irony that displays the difference in knowledge and character depth, yet still, one beautiful girl walking down the street.
CLOSER is a poignantly unconventional film that masters the art of character development with a simple yet shockingly realistic plot. In fact, CLOSER exposes the truth to many of the cultural norms and actions of everyday people who refuse to admit their own vices. What's more, there is a certain empathy/apathy paradox under running the whole film. The director has cleverly developed the plot so that each character exposes their faults, their gifts, their flaws, and their hearts; all but one that is. Though the character's become closely interwoven, and the line between sin and deceit is very fine, it seems one character withstands the test of it all in a determined effort not to be beguiled. Nevertheless, hearts still break.
By far some of the most catching scenes in this film are in fact, the opening and closing of the film. Serving as visual bookends, if you will, the first and final scenes are so very appropriate to both the film content and its genre. Ironically these poems appropriately mirrored the poetic aesthetics of the Romantic era, where often literature began and ended with the same scene, yet not wholly the same. Moreover the scene's echo effect was so artistic and poignant in portraying the theme and tone of the film. There is a bittersweet-ness about CLOSER that one can't help but appreciate as it grounds its audience in the reality that we call our life.
Alice, played by Natalie Portman, plays the aloof wanderer whose complex knowledge of innocence and experience blend into a portrayal of a cheeky, sharp-witted dialogue.
Dan, played by Jude Law, is the hopeless romantic whose emotions runneth over and often gets in the way of rational thought.
Anna, played by Julia Roberts, the emotionally and personally confused photographer whose want of independence yet solidly dependent character puts many a hitch in her personal relationships.
Larry, played by Clive Owen, is the successful doctor with a talent and primal instinct that make him the brashest of the four characters.