*** Official CLOSER Review Thread

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Patrick Sun, Dec 3, 2004.

  1. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    "Closer" is a story on how the lives of 4 people intersecting in the oddest ways to produce heartache and lust in the various straight pairings that occurs between them all. The backdrop of the setting being London never quite overshadows the core of the story, but adds a bit of flavor (and thankfully doesn't dredge up any memories of Notting Hill).

    The screenplay was very tight, always moving forward, almost at too quick a pace, the dialogue was as sharp as it needed to be to propel the plot along briskly. Mike Nichols does a good job directing not only the material, but the actors as well. He's on quite a roll this year (the other good effort for him being "Angels in America" on HBO).

    The performances by the 4 principal actors (Natalie Portman, Jude Law, Julia Roberts, and Clive Owens) were all up to the task of the material, but I think I'd give the edge to Clive Owen in the acting category for this film over his cohorts, he is what his character is, with not much "star" baggage and, boy, does he live up to the "all's fair in love and war" motto.

    Yes, for fans of Natalie, this film represents a departure from her earlier work, with a more brazen adult role in terms of occupation (stripper) while still holding on to an emotionally immature outlook on love and life that fits with her character's age.

    Julia Roberts didn't annoy me as much, though her character is internally and emotionally messy. Jude Law's charm helps glide his character through the film, but his self-destructive romantic side gets the better of him all throughout the film.

    Anyhow, a good flick that is hard to look away from because it is like a shark, always moving forward, damn the consequences.

    I give it 3.5 stars, or a grade of B+.
     
  2. Adam_S

    Adam_S Producer

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    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG] (out of four)

    (Admin note - lots of spoilers below in terms of plot, but sort of hard to spoiler-text the spoiler bits, so be forewarned before reading this review)

    I expect Closer to pick up very mixed reviews, most of them probably replete with "Julia Roberts plays herself" snide comments (I've not yet read any professional or amateur reviews but I heard it from some of the people I saw the film with and those comments always annoy me, how the hell do they know if she's playing herself or not?). That said I think this is one of the best films of the year (so far). The cinematography was stunning, as was the direction. The editing perfectly matched the film.

    And the script was amazing. I've not seen the play, I don't care a bit that it was adapted from one. My favorite scene in the film (final one with Law and Portman) was the only one that felt a bit stagey to me, but that didn't matter at all. Wonderful dialogue, really intense scenes.

    Overall: Intense (see Long review below [​IMG] )


    There are four characters in Closer, Daniel (Jude Law), Alice (Natalie Portman), Anna (Julia Roberts), and Larry (Clive Owen). Alice and Daniel are brought together in the opening scene when Alice gets bumped by a cab and Daniel takes her to the hospital. They flirt, have nice chemistry--cut to Anna photographing a much more confident Daniel while he flirts hard with her. Then, when Alice comes in and has a scene with Anna the film begins to seriously assert itself. What follows is as powerful an indictment of the way people manipulate, lie, fight and hurt one another as I've ever seen. Part of the power comes from the mode of delivery, the film opens with an almost romantic comedy love at first sight 'gag' and runs with the romcom flirting aspect... so when Closer starts having people actually say and act blatently in ways that 'common sense' tells us just aren't done, it is breathtaking. Closer is very blatent. Characters tell each other they lied, they cheated, that they're lieing right now, that they're mentally dueling with one another, they're constantly testing, and probing, and checking to make sure it's all-clear-and-safe-to-come-out. Each of these characters must hide their vulnerability and insecurity at all costs. Each of them desperately need other people, and honestly, powerfully, some of them just as badly cling to the necessity of feeling miserable and depressed. My first girlfriend was someone who didn't believe she deserved to be happy, this film hit me very hard.

    heh, it also confirmed that practicing abstinance is good thing, because sex just fucks everything up, it's always present in relationship discourse, but the complexity and delicacy of the sex subdiscourse rachets up exponentially after characters have swapped fluids.

    I admire the honesty of this story, it never pretends and more importantly the characters never pretend) that they are good people. It believes in the unsaid, "noone is a good person... and what is this 'good' anyway, it's a fiction we tell ourselves to feel better about ourselves. there may be good people out there, but no one is good all the time in every way." Closer is trying not to lie about people. The people it presents are not all that likable, they are all understandable; you can sympathize with all of them.

    Julia Roberts and Jude Law have thankless roles; Clive Owen and Natalie Portman will reap all the praise because they have the showiest, strongest scenes and dialogue. But Julia Roberts gives one hell of a performance, one of her very best; likewise for Jude Law. Julia Roberts lets us into enormous complexities in her first kiss with Jude Law. Her performance in the incredibly tough proposition Clive Owen makes her, and her completely nonverbal moments just before Clive Owen comes home and their big row takes place are great moments of quiet, layered acting. Jude Law does an amazing transition from a Clark Kent to Clark Gable type. But you're never sure who or what he really is. His character is an unparalleled bastard; you want to explain away him as immature, as uncontrolled, as uncaring, or even unthinking--it is all of those things and none of them. No simple explanation to write off his character: he makes bad decisions he knows are bad decisions, that he knows will hurt people... and he keeps making them. it made me think of when I myself have done the same thing, something I prefer not to think of...

    Clive Owen has a wonderful part full of juicy scenes to work. His confrontation with Anna (and then Alice) are simply breathtaking. He's a lamb but can turn ferocious on a dime; he's emotional, unstable, and all to real--an amazing character and performance.

    Natalie Portman owns this film. Absolutely incredible. She is stunning, sexy, vulnerable, guarded, closed, open, honest and lying in every scene.
    I wish the strip scene was in (because I'm not going to lie and say I don't want to see her naked), but I think Nichols made the right decision to take it out. It would have been brutal and powerful to see (what she has been coldly ordered to do), but it is also a reveal. We have anticipation built not yet seen because the camera deliberately avoided her nudity earlier; this means anticipation and reward of seeing her naked would take away from the intense interpersonal exchange going on between her and Larry. I can't pick out a favorite scene or moment in her performance: in scene after scene she is consistently, incredibly amazing.

    This goes in my top three for the year, dislodging Harry Potter and landing right below Eternal Sunshine and the Incredibles. I like this more than the Graduate because the Graduate is solipsistic around Dustin Hoffman none of the other characters exist other than in how they relate to Dustin Hoffman, so there is no consequences or real, tangible causality to any of his choices--Closer is a much more mature work and reflection on how we live and interact and try our hands at being some thing called human.

    And mostly failing.

    Adam
     
  3. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    This thread is now the Official Review Thread for "Closer". Please post all HTF member reviews in this thread.

    Any other comments, links to other reviews, or discussion items will be deleted from this thread without warning!

    If you need to discuss those type of issues then I have designated an Official Discussion Thread.



    Crawdaddy
     
  4. Cory S.

    Cory S. Supporting Actor

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    Adam,

    Your review of the film is perfect in every way.

    Had a chance to watch it last night and the film is arresting and brutal. When I heard Mike Nichols was directing this film, I immediately tried to find the play and read it. It was a bit of jolt after I read it but the film takes that jolt from the pages and shocks you all to hell.

    It is a very brutal look at relationships of the time, love, and the complications of sex. The performances were stellar. Owen and Portman will definitely reap the benefits from their performances in this film. But most surprising to me is Roberts. She's definitely NOT playing Julia Roberts in this film. She's colder but her face is a direct contrast to her character which makes her performance all the more stunning.

    Portman's a revelation in this film. After seeing the film, my mind has been battling back and forth on which role I thought she was better in; Garden Stete or this film. For the life of me, I can't make a decision simply because she's great in both. But she should definitely get some type of recognition after the year she's had. And Nichols was right in his editing of the strip scene. Nothing is left to the imagination during that scene. Portman definitely let herself go into a new territory in that scene.

    It's a great sign when many people are divided and have many opinions on a piece of art. Films of this nature should been seen more often. This film will definitely be in my top 10 for the year. Where it will stand, I won't make that decision until the year is over but it's going to be high.

    Favorite moment: The final image of Portman walking in NYC along with the score. First and foremost, Portman is an image of beauty but the way she plays it makes her character more complex and ambigious.

    Bravo Nichols and the cast.
     
  5. Dave Hackman

    Dave Hackman Stunt Coordinator

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    Did this movie make you cum?

    Tell me the truth!!!

    Damn it

    I need to know the truth!!

    No but I wish it did

    Is this movie better then Seed of Chucky?

    I need to know the truth!!

    No I call it a tie

    I sat un-aroused at the frivolous choice of dialog, unflattering camera angles and the inability to deliver interesting characters.

    I was in movie misery, 20 min in with no possibility of recovery.

    I found all the characters to be very standoffish with myself never really liking any of them. I couldn’t care less if Jude Law’s character Dan slept with the doctor played by Clive Owen, although that would have been something to awake me from my slumber.

    Portman’s voice just didn’t sound right for this type of role. She sounded way too young and not seductive enough. She sounded like a young R Kelly groupie attempting to be older then her actual age. Portraying a slut and speaking like a sailor didn’t impress me at all and to think this may be construed as refreshing is unfortunate. Natalie acted like a manikin just wasting screen time with her shark eyes and soulless performance. This is the worst I’ve seen her act but she’s young theirs time to recover.

    Law’s character is reminiscent to the character he played in Alfie A touch more vulnerability being the only real difference. He does a good job with what he has to work with, which wasn’t much.

    Roberts is just out of place, can’t really pinpoint why, she looked so moody. I wanted her to do something anything grab a knife scream something.

    Clive Own just goes overboard with his stupid dialog, although I think he had a couple of good moments when playing mind games with Jude Law’s character. Only kidding he sucked too.

    I suppose if you are in the market for a tough talk no action type of one-upmanwomenship then you should be ecstatic.

    I personally wouldn’t ever watch this again and I wish I hadn’t seen it.

    D-
     
  6. Tim Schwalk

    Tim Schwalk Extra

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    What a colossal disappointment!! What a mammoth waste of time! What a tremendous waste of money!! I don’t know where to begin explaining how disappointed I was with this film. Closer is a naughty, surprising, bore of a film. Maybe I expected too much in thinking there would be an interesting story and compelling characters. Maybe I gave this amazing cast too much credit. Or maybe this is just one of the most disappointing films of the year.

    “Closer” follows the lives of four strangers (Natalie Portman, Jude Law, Julia Roberts, Clive Owen) and how their lives are hopelessly connected. It basically tells the story of lost loves and failed relationships. Everyone cheats on everyone else and then they argue about it. That should have been the tagline on the poster, because that’s the plot in a nutshell. This is a very serious film with only a few moments of humor (a rather risqué, though hilarious, internet chat.) The dark tone of the film hangs over the audience like a black cloud and really dampens any enjoyment of the movie. More humor would have been a welcome addition to the piles of hopelessness shoveled into the audience members’ laps.

    “Closer” features a copious amount of off-color dialog that serves no purpose other than to shock the audience with its unneeded vulgarity. Gasps could be heard throughout the theater as disgustingly obscene word vomit spewed from the mouths of the A-list stars. I was embarrassed for the women in the audience. The ladies in front of me buried their faces into their hands. I was embarrassed to be there with my wife although she fell asleep 30 minutes into it. I was embarrassed for the parents who made the awful mistake of bringing their children. I was embarrassed for Julia Roberts’ reputation. I was embarrassed for the filmmakers involved.

    I wasn’t embarrassed simply because of the unnecessary vulgarity; I was also embarrassed for the filmmakers because of the absolute bore of a film that they no doubt poured their souls into. There were glimpses of greatness throughout, teasing us with what it could have been. Unfortunately, in the end it was just a movie about nothing. It was basically a showcase for the actors. There were plenty of conversations and arguments but they all ended up sounding the same. This film was a valiant effort by director, Mike Nichols. Unfortunately, oftentimes the more Herculean the effort, the more epic the failure is in the end. That is most definitely the case here.

    Nichols’ film jumps through time unexpectedly whenever a major event takes place. At first these strange leaps were interesting, but eventually they grew very tiring. It became work to try and figure out where we were now as an audience, and why we were there. The film doesn’t jump between characters revealing clues or surprises as some multi-layered movies like to do. The way it is handled in “Closer” feels much more like a trick, or an unnecessary attempt at fancy filmmaking.

    Watching the movie unfold, it was very evident that the screenplay had been adapted from a stage play. The film concerns itself more with conversations than it does with plot. There really is no story. Every major “event” (if you can call them that) happens off-screen. The audience is treated to heated arguments sparked by these events but we never actually see anything happen. Much of the movie involves simply watching the characters react to an event that unfolded off-screen.

    Now for the good: The performances were fantastic. Each actor did a terrific job with the part he or she had. Julia Roberts was probably the weakest of the four and Clive Owens was probably the strongest (please hire this guy as the next James Bond.) All four really did do a wondrous job though. The problem is that the characters had no redeeming values whatsoever and the audience never feels any sort of connection with any of them. By the end of the movie, I couldn’t even name 2 of the 4 main character’s names. Maybe that’s inexcusable on my part, but I tend to blame the inability of the director to connect with the audience. Make no mistake about it. This isn’t a movie – it’s simply a sequence of conversations. It’s a vignette of arguments, an exhibition of acting, and a parade of excessive exposition.

    If director Mike Nichols was trying to shock the audience with his film he has succeeded. I was completely surprised that he could take such a talented cast and make such a terrible movie.
     
  7. Eric Peterson

    Eric Peterson Cinematographer

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    I fall somewhere between the lovers and the haters for this film. In general, I found the structure interesting and the acting to be more than adequate, but was bored by the majority of the movie.

    It was very interesting listening to Julia Roberts describe her sex life in explicit detail, and to see a nearly nude Natalie Portman, but in the end none of the characters were interesting, and the only one that I had even a small amount of compassion for was Portman's character. I hate to sound cliche, but a movie without any characters to care for isn't a very good movie.

    [​IMG] [​IMG] 1/2
     
  8. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

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    While it lacks the intensity of his 1966 debut film, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Mike Nichols’ Closer still excels in acting, dialogue and execution as it examines the romantic and sexual entanglements of four different individuals. Unpleasant and unredeeming the characters may be, Patrick Marber’s screenplay is sharp and clever.

    ~Edwin
     
  9. Seth Paxton

    Seth Paxton Lead Actor

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    (copy from 2004 film thread)
    Closer
    10 of 10

    Nichols film starts slow and deliberate as he establishes some basic relationships, but it quickly soars in act 2 as these relationships blow up in everyone's face. Seeing the destructive emotional offshoots of love, jealously and lust, play out among these characters is quite beautiful. This is not exactly reality, there is a charm and movie-like perfection to the interactions, but there is a tension inducing grittiness as well which is the film's appeal.

    Roberts proves that she can be the real deal and gives one of her best efforts as a confused photographer that is unable to avoid hurting the men in her life, and Law and Portman are both solid as well. But it is Clive Owen who really shines as a both likeable and loathsome manipulator who uses honesty and truth to get what he wants.

    It is a credit to Nichols that by the end of the film I felt a great deal of pity for all four characters who came together like a car wreck, rather fitting considering the opening scene in which Portman is hit.
     
  10. Ocean Phoenix

    Ocean Phoenix Supporting Actor

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    I expected to have the same problems with this movie that many others in this thread do. I thought that it would just be people acting cruel towards each other, and I would hate it, because I tend to prefer films where the characters are likable and/or sympathetic, so I can relate to them. So I went to this film reluctantly with some friends, and ended up completely satisfied by it. Closer has the most intense simultaneously disturbing and fascinating dialogue-driven scenes that I've ever seen.

    Clive Owen ruled every scene he was in. He always delivered his lines with fiery passion and painful sincerity. When he confronts Julia Roberts in one scene, his words are shockingly vulgar, articulate, and eloquent at the same time. In another with Jude Law, he was so manipulative, arrogant, and understanding at the same time that I was both disgusted and impressed by him. Then with Natalie Portman, he convincingly went from pathetic to powerful over the course of one scene. He gave a hell of a performance, easily alternating between domineering and desperate.

    I'll never look at Natalie Portman the same way after this movie. I thought I'd always see her as innocent and sweet after Garden State, but I saw her as erotic for the first time in Closer. I couldn't help but see her as a hot adult woman for once, rather than just a cute young lady, as she just "oozed sex appeal" in certain scenes. I think the screenplay for Closer is exceptional and deserves awards. I've never heard such brutally honest dialogue in a movie...I was so mesmerized by it that the movie's "dark nature" couldn't bother me or bring me down.
     

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