December 10 - 16, 2004 • Vol. 24 - No. 50

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Closer—Sometimes Being Close
Can be Too Close for Comfort

by The Maven and The Blonde
Film Columnists

Closer is the dramatic love story directed by Mike Nichols and adapted from Patrick Marber’s 1997 award-winning stage-play of the same name. This film looks at the uncompromising, honest interaction of contemporary relationships. Closer takes place in modern London, where four strangers are brought together by sheer accident and fate. Their attractions lead to cold and brutal betrayals that forever change each character’s life and relationships.
The four main players include Dan, portrayed by Jude Law (Alfie and Cold Mountain), an aspiring, frustrated novelist who is earning a living writing obituaries for the London Newspaper. There is also Larry, played by Clive Owen (King Arthur and Beyond Borders), the handsome, self-assured, dermatologist who, after experiencing a broken heart, swears NEVER to be hurt again. Adding spice to the screen is Anna, elegantly played by Julia Roberts (Pretty Woman, Ocean’s Eleven, Erin Brockovich and the new, proud mother of twins), who is a successful, beautiful (what else could she be) photographer recently divorced. Last but not least, there is the china doll Alice, played by Natalie Portman (Star Wars and Where the Heart Is), who has recently come to London to start a whole new world for herself. She is honest, sincere, childlike, direct and the most genuine character in the group.  
Okay, now try to keep up! The story begins when Dan, while walking to work, runs into Alice, the young and beautiful American stripper who has just been hit by a taxi. Well, she of course instantly falls for Dan unconditionally. Dan is initially charmed with Alice and they share a romance. Alice and Dan's relationship inspires him to finish his novel (she is his muse), which is based on their relationship (how original and creative)? Now, we jump ahead a few years (like Alexander) and Alice's neediness and constant affections are starting to wear thin on Dan. So… enter Anna, the gorgeous photographer who is hired to take Dan's portrait for the cover of his new novel. The two flirt, sparks fly and obvious as it is, yes you got it; Dan falls madly in love with Anna. But… insecure and quite unsure about Dan's love for her, Alice confronts Anna and Anna denies such acquisitions about her and Dan. Are you confused yet? WAIT, THERE'S MORE!

Through the Internet, with the encouragement of cupid Dan (pretending to be Anna), Larry and Anna meet. They fall in love and get married. By this point, Dan wants Anna for himself and stalks her until they have an affair. Now, Anna tells Larry about the affair and Dan gets upset. Then Anna gets upset! Dan tells Alice that he is in love with Anna and he gets upset. Then poor Alice gets upset. Dan and Anna begin to live together and Larry gets upset again. By this time, the Blonde and the Maven are upset too! Larry can't live life without his Anna. He is so miserable that he wanders the streets and winds up in a strip club where he meets up with Alice and they have sex. Readers, are you still with us? This is tough to follow! Okay, now the plot thickens even more (even though it's as thick as mud now)! Anna has sex with Larry so that he will sign the divorce papers. Anna tells Dan about it and now he is upset again. At this point, The Maven and the Blonde went to the concession stand to REFILL our popcorn buckets and buy MORE candy. (The heck with our diets)!  

If infidelity and mind games disturb you, then by now you will not be a happy movie-going camper! We wouldn't dare tell you how this one ends, or does it?

The Blonde: Closer was like Bob, Carol, Ted, and Alice meets Dangerous Liaisons meets Alfie meets Carnal Knowledge meets 10 meets Virginia Woolf meets American Sweethearts meets we really don't care anymore! I am so dizzy and confused with all of this her with him and him with her storyline. What happened to the innocent, sweet, old fashioned love stories? This film was like a chess game of interactions with complex characters. Its intertwining relationships of complete mistrust and layers of betrayal truly had ironic implications. These four characters were four perfect examples of how Prozack or Zoloft could have come in handy! Maybe these were the people Bush was talking about when he was speaking of “THE EVIL DOERS”?

The Maven: Don't go there! Power games, honesty, revealing, shallow, and debased. No, not an episode of “The Apprentice”! This movie had all of the above. The characters incessantly talked about sex, but you never actually see anyone “DOING IT”!  If there had been just one shot of Clive Owen's tush, I would have enjoyed the movie a little more! I am so depressed!

The Blonde:  You’re depressed because, how should I phrase it, this film was bad!  It displayed tricky time passages as well as very surreal usage of filming close-up shots and angles. The story was like a Jerry Springer show without the flying chairs and bodyguards. It was like a bad soap opera with good acting! Oh Maven, remember that addiction to love? Remember the electricity and passion you get from a brand new relationship? Remember that great to be in love feeling?

The Maven: Who could remember that far back? With you it's a weekly occurrence!

The Blonde: Oh, you flatter me so! Getting back to the film, did you know that Owen, (who played Larry), first played 'Dan' in the original London stage production of Closer? Furthermore, Cate Blanchett was originally cast for Julia's part, but she got pregnant and had to drop out!  Man that Julia Robert's is one lucky girl! She's had so many hit movies (not to mention Ocean's Twelve). She is married to a babe, she's beautiful, has a perfect body, and just experienced the miracle of giving birth to twins, a boy and a girl! Some gals have it all!

The Maven:  MEOW!! MEOW!!! All of the actors did a terrific job, but I didn't feel connected to any one of their characters. I really could care less if anything turned out well for these four people. Julia's performance was the most subtle she's ever given. Natalie was positively riveting to watch. Clive was beautiful and his voice is divine. Jude was vulnerable. However, all was wasted on a story with no purpose. Did you know that the director of this film, Mike Nichols, is married to Diane Sawyer? With a storyline this movie conveys, it makes you wonder about their marriage!

The Blonde: Hey, watch it! I love Diane Sawyer. Being the serious journalist that I am, she is my role model and hero. Back to this film, Natalie Portman, who is originally from Israel, is such a talented young woman. She will most definitely stand the test of time in Hollywood. I must say, though, that I was totally disappointed to see her in this far too provocative of a role. I don't think it was appropriate or beneficial to her career. As far as Jude is concerned, this is the second film in a row he has taken that makes woman hate men!  Julia looked more beautiful than ever and is always the superb and consummate actress. Lastly, Clive portrayed an unlikable controlling character. As far as the film is concerned, if I wanted this much stress, shock, aggravation, and depressing moments I would have gone bathing-suit shopping.

The Maven: Or, you could get married again!

The Blonde: GOOD ONE!

The Maven: My reaction to this movie was absolute discomfort…

The Blonde: I think that was because your pants were too tight!  We did have a terrific dinner in the Premier restaurant at Muvico!

The Maven: I can't help it, their grouper is to die for, not to mention their fab desserts. But… I have NO excuse! My pants were tight before dinner!  Now where was I?

The Blonde: Your absolute discomfort!

The Maven:  My intellect said, “Well, this is an adult love story.” My emotions said, “If this is being an adult, I'll stay immature!” Oprah would probably label the characters in this film as having erotic anxiety. I label it a D for depression!

The Blonde: This film had way too much clichéd dialogue. The story was twisted, sadistic, dark, sad, and a downer to watch!  I could do without all the mind games, as I experience enough raising two girls!  A word of advice to all our male readers! If you are looking for romance after a movie, DO NOT TAKE YOUR LADY TO SEE Closer!  I suggest you go see National Treasure instead! I rate this film a D as well!  I suggest skipping the snacks altogether, as this film is NOT WORTH THE CALORIES!

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