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Closer (2004) May 7, 2005

Posted by ayasawada in Uncategorized.
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Closer comes with a lot of Oscar buzz and four big name stars, the enchanting Natalie Portman among them. I’d waited a while to see it, but I didn’t think it would be this good.

I had my reservations and they mainly stemmed from the fact that this is a direct translation of a play. With such heavily loaded dialogue, would it translate well to the screen? The answer is resoundingly given through the performances. In a character driven story, acting reigns supreme. Natalie Portman and Clive Owen are absolutely fantastic, extraordinary really and Natalie in particular. Clearly I don’t need an excuse to praise her but, given that Clive Owen has done this play on stage time and again, her fresh performance all the more stunning. Perhaps it is just that she dares to take on a role so different to those of her past. But the Natalie Portman seen here is mature and wily, that pert Lolita-esque vibe blooming into an adult persona. She acts the experienced pair of Jude Law and Julia Roberts off the screen.

That is, in part, due to the dialogue which, though fantastic, is still heavy with the needs of the theatre. When every line has to carry some gravitas, it lacks a certain naturalness and that is what separates theatre from movies. The occasional wooden line from Law or Roberts marks this out, though to be fair Roberts character is so vapid I sometimes forgot she was on screen. That couldn’t be said for Clive Owen though. He makes Larry the kind of bastard all men want to be: successful, confident and proud of his pervy flaws.

The director (the excellent Mike Nichols) and the cast make this movie, but it is cemented by the sheer strength of the writing, the story and the contemporary themes: physical intimacy versus emotional intimacy, summarised beautifully by the Larry and Alice’s meeting at the club; Sex versus the simple closeness of knowing someone’s name. That’s why I found Closer so absorbing. That and Natalie looks amazing in the final shot.

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