“Closer” Reviewed

Closer is a tough movie. Tough, as in difficult to watch, painful to witness and hard on the spirit. And yet, it’s worth watching. I don’t recommend it to everyone, but the movie offers some profound insights into the human condition, namely into the power of sex in relationships. As that theme indicates, Closer is replete with many tremendously vulgar scenes — not necessarily graphically. In fact, the most grotesque and vile parts are during dialogue.

So why would someone want to subject himself to such courseness? Well, in spite of that — or because of it — the movie is honest. It tells the truth about many things, namely three things that Hollywood, in fact, almost always lies about:

  1. There is no such thing as casual or meaningless sex. Conversely, sex cannot be divorced from real intimacy in a relationship, much deeper than many people care to imagine or admit.
  2. That love is a conscious choice as much as it is an emotion or feeling.
  3. That all people long to be known, but also to be able to truly trust another, especially and ultimately in sexual relationships, and that broken trust in this area is devastating and profound.

The principle, four-character cast (Julia Roberts, Jude Law, Clive Owen and Natalie Portman) illustrates the pain endured and inflicted upon each other in their relationships. I’m not sure whom I think does the best job, though Portman’s character certainly has the most memorable and truthful lines. Beware of a certain trailer for this film that presents it much more lightly and happily than it is. For all the film’s honestly, that trailer seems disturbingly dishonest after having seen it. (Interestingly, the reviewer at IMBD didn’t agree with me at all on the film’s merits.)


  1. J East said,

    December 22, 2004 @ 9:00 am

    I have not had a chance to see that movie yet, but would like too. I have heard that it is a hard movie to watch.

    Misleading trailers seems to be an epidemic. We discussed the misleading trailer for “Changing Lanes” during our movie night. While it is annoying I guess the nice thing is that Hollywood IS releasing movies that are a bit deeper, even if they advertise them as something lighter.

  2. J East said,

    January 18, 2005 @ 3:57 pm

    I don’t think anyone will read this seeing as how it is buried in last month’s messages; however I wanted to comment on the movie.

    I get MLK day off so I went to see a movie by myself yesterday. I chose to see Closer. Closer was originally a play, which becomes more obvious as you see it’s reliance on conversations. Not that this is limiting, rather I think the conversations have been thought about more carefully, and thus the lines are so good. I agree that it does such a good job of dispelling the “lies” of sex. However, the way the movie (play) ends is with no hope of healthy relationships. Now the author might have been saying that because these people acted so carelessly there is no going back. But to me it felt more like the author was expressing a deep cynicism about all relationships. There is a shot of Anna (Julia Roberts) trying to fall asleep at the end of the movie, that to me communicated this cynicism the best. After everything that has happened, she still doubts her decision. Granted I know marriage is not a cure all, but I think that we can choose to entertain doubts or put them to rest. I would have thought that her character would have finally after it all learned to put her doubts to rest. Now for a single guy that is depressing.

  3. Pip said,

    February 27, 2005 @ 12:01 am

    Thanks for the followup, Jon. You’re right: the film is cynical. And it does have several play-like qualities; knowing that it was a play made me wonder how the stage version treated the ending twist (Dan’s realization about Alice’s identity as he walks through the momument garden). Any idea?

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