Reviewed by: Jonathan Rodriguez
|Featuring||Julia Roberts, Jude Law, Natalie Portman, Clive Owen, Michael Haley|
|Producer||Cary Brokaw, Robert Fox, Mike Nichols, Scott Rudin|
“If you believe in love at first sight, you never stop looking.”
Impulse reigns supreme in “Closer,” the new film by Mike Nichols. The four central characters have no regard for their loved ones, or their feelings, and go about doing whatever makes them happy, whatever brings them the most pleasure at that very moment. If it means sleeping with someone else, well, who cares? Everyone can be understanding when it comes to adultery. Right?
“Closer,” tells the story of two couples, Dan and Alice, played by Jude Law and Natalie Portman, and Larry and Anna, played by Clive Owen and Julia Roberts. Dan, an obituary writer, meets Alice, an American stripper, who gets hit by a cab while crossing a London street. He takes her to the hospital, and afterwards they wander the streets of London; he apparently oblivious to the fact that he is missing work to talk to this beauty. He, of course, doesn’t mind, and in the next scene we learn that, off screen, the two have moved in together and Dan has written a novel about his relationship with Alice.
I suppose if anything is to blame for the mess that is to follow (besides the blazing hormones), it is that wretched book, which sets up a photo shoot with photographer Anna. He wants Anna immediately, and makes it obvious. She initially tries to ignore it, but then gives in and kisses him, briefly. The kiss sparks an even more intense desire for Anna—we believe he would have left Alice in a heartbeat had Anna asked him to—but she says she doesn’t want to pursue the relationship any further. More time passes off screen, and Anna meets Larry in a bizarre encounter at an aquarium she frequents. They hit it off, and begin a relationship of their own.
The four are brought together at an exhibit featuring Anna’s photos. Dan and Anna once again hit it off as they chat secretly near the stairs, and sparks fly between Larry and Alice in front of one of the photos. After that, the lies and adulteries begin. Each person cheats on their significant other, and lies about it until they feel it is a convenient time to admit they no longer have feelings for their “loved” ones. The four swap places, basically, and go back and forth, until we are left wondering why on earth they would take each other back after all the cheating.
“Closer” is a graphic film from beginning to end. Sexual dialogue is rampant throughout, and at times, extraordinarily vile. In particular, a scene involving two of the stars chatting in a London sex chat room had people in the theater I was at heading for the exits. Nudity is shown in the background of the strip club where Alice works, and the film’s profanity is constant. The one good thing, I suppose, is that for a film obsessed with sex, there isn’t a single sex scene to be found. Having said that, in all honesty, this film ranks up there as one of the most morally offensive films I have ever seen.
There was one somewhat moral moment in the film . After Dan admits his initial infidelities to Alice, she reminds him that there is a single moment that comes when someone is tempted where they have the opportunity to say yes or no. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” A little self control would have gone a long way with this group. [See our article: How can I deal with temptations?]
The content isn’t the only thing that bothered me in “Closer.” The film is based on a play by Patrick Marber, and Mike Nichols has brought the feel of the stage to this film. Very long periods of time occur off screen, and while at first it seems like an interesting approach, it quickly becomes annoying as we realize that all the interesting parts of these character’s lives are occurring off camera. It’s like Nichol’s and his crew only came in to shoot the scenes where people admitted they were cheating on each other, and decided to skip anything that may have proven to us that the characters actually loved each other at one time.
“Closer,” whether on purpose or by accident, makes its characters so repulsively vile that we honestly do not care what happens to them. To say that the characters had it coming to them is an extreme understatement. We sit back, rather detached from the proceedings, like voyeurs, watching bad people ruin there lives and the lives of those around them.
I suppose the title is somewhat ironic, considering we have not been brought any closer to these characters by watching them “suffer,” and the characters certainly have not gotten much closer either. The film doesn’t involve us, so when it ends, we have not been moved, or enlightened, or even depressed; we simply do not care.
While the performances are great, most notably Owen and Portman, they cannot save this film. “Closer” is one of the most disappointing films I have seen in a long while, and will be one Christians will want to steer clear of. “Closer,” which is rated R for sequences of graphic sexual dialogue, nudity/sexuality and language, gets a D+.
Violence: None / Profanity: Extreme / Sex/Nudity: Extreme