Sunday, December 26, 2004

Closer


There is a big revelation at the end of Closer that puts in perspective all the events that transpired in Mike Nichols' caustic tale of love, lust, betrayal, deception and the vagaries of easily told truths.

This film, adapted from a Tony-winning stage play, brings to screen four of the handsomest people working in Hollywood today.

Natalie Portman is Alice. She is a New York stripper who moves to London to mend her broken heart. An accident leads her to meet Dan (Jude Law), an obituary writer in a local newspaper. They easily take a liking of each other and live in apparent bliss for the next few months.

A year passes and come enters Anna (Julia Roberts) into their lives. She is the photographer commissioned to do Dan's cover jacket photographs for his new book detailing his love story with Alice. This series of photograph sessions and, at first, innocent flirting leads to a deeper relationship that hooks Dan and alienates Alice.

Dan's obsession with Anna triggers him to do extreme acts. In one of the films best written scenes, Dan logs into a cybersex webpage pretending to be Anna and indulges Larry (Clive Owen), a Dermatologist to come meet her in a local Aquarium. This innocent and lusty playfulness backfires as the real Anna falls in love with Larry and abandons Dan.

Alice, in all these events, remain in the shadows of Dan, faithful and trusting, loving and understanding.

This is a film that puts into focus how adults make a mockery of love and relationships. After Anna abandons Dan and marries Larry, the films spirals into a terrible series of betrayals and deceptions that ultimately leads to painful breakups and reconciliations.

This masterful love quadrangle is perfect in its triumphant evocation of how lovers tend to lose focus on gentle truths and sometimes demand painful honesty from their partners not to assuage their hurt feelings but to hurl back to the offending party the same pain their acts have caused them. It is very apparent here and so in real life that oftentimes people can easily promise their i-love-you's without taking the consequences of what they are inviting their partners into.

It is also significant to note that the professions of the characters here (that is the reason why i patiently jotted them down) reflect how they are in real life (it is not apparent though that they are able to grasp the ugly pictures they are painting of themselves). Anna is a photographer who was accused early on by another character of stealing her subjects life and using them for her own personal comfort. Larry is a dermatologist who is preoccupied on physical beauty but is hiding an ugly wrathful self. Dan is an obituarist whose main occupation is to write about the ideal lives he paints of his subjects which blurs his own beliefs and make him blind to the ideal life he actually has. Alice is a stripper who allows her patrons to disrobe her without letting them touch her. She goes naked, bares all her body but does she really open up everything about her? hmmm...

In the end, the revelation about Alice, the stripper, will finally unmask her and lovingly define her and puts a mean ending to this rollercoaster of a love quadrangle that doesn't end happily ever after for some.

And Isn't it a fact that in every love stories that begin there is always one person, the one abandoned and left behind, hurting in the background? But, how can one empathize with the character who so bravely declares his love for someone and yet carelessly not try to even know the real person he is supposedly in love with and when he is left abandoned, can the audience be blamed if they don't feel an ounce of sympathy - or for that matter the party who abandons him - for the sad predicament he put himself in?

Closer is one of the very best films of the year. All the actors do good here but special kudos goes to Natalie Portman who, while she vibrantly bookends this tale, despairingly shines as Alice. She acts so good that even when she goes naked the viewer is not a bit distracted. Clive Owen is also very effective in his role that is so easy to like and hate as swiftly as his chameleonic character changes from being nice to being vicious.

The haunting music used at the start and end was never more inspired while the writing witty and crisply naughty.


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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I enjoy these reviews. Looking forward to seeing one of The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.

Darryl

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