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I've been hearing lots of negativity about this movie. I think a lot of
people have been shocked, frankly, by the raw and rough nature of the
film. Having read the play, I've been looking forward to it for about a
year now, and it's honestly one of the best plays I've ever read. Mike
Nichols presents it in an amazing way, very faithful to the words as
they're written (and they should be, for the movie is also written by
the man who wrote the play, the brilliant Patrick Marber).
It's a brutal topic, sex and love, especially when they're combined. I thought the movie was amazing. It captured all of the vulnerability, caustic harshness, and acerbic flirtation that the play vibrated with. All of the cast brought the movie alive. It uplifts and then brings you way down, but that's the point, and yet at the end, I didn't feel depressed or saddened, just really really awake and curious. It's the feeling you get when you get "closer", I suppose.
Natalie Portman, in a tour-de-force performance, is the standout by far. Maybe it's because she's the youngest, and not expected to be that awesome, but she is. Anyways, her Alice is flirty and sweet, caustic and manipulative, evasive and yet very open, sexual and gloomy all in one character. She has the best chemistry with the men - whether it be purely sensual with Clive Owen, or innocence and affection with Jude Law. She comes alive with the two guys, and their scenes are ones to look forward to.
Julia Roberts, whom everyone looks towards, is not bad in this film. She's very understated and good, but she is outshone in nearly every scene by whomever she's acting with.
Clive Owen is absolutely astounding, and he's definitely on everyone's radar screen. As the man of experience and "simplicity", as Jude Law's character comments, he's brash and hotheaded, but also extremely clever. Owen perfectly plays the sleazy, unlikeable character, but somehow manages to appeal to the audience and even though he's a disagreeable character, I think many managed to find something all right about him - Owen's human sense in Larry.
Jude Law is simply very very good; neither astounding nor bad. The only reason he does not stand out is the fact that we've all expected him to do a good performance. And he does, he has a great performance. He and Portman have amazing scenes together, and he's always on par.
Simply put, the movie is not for everyone (especially not for seeing with a parent or young child); it's a mature adult flick, and does not back down from anything. It's high drama - with all the uplifting romance and brutal arguments of relationships. It's a story about people.
Mike Nichols directed, in my opinion, one of the three best adaptations from stage to screen. "Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf" (The other two being Sidney Lumet's "Long day's journey into night" and Elia Kazan's "A Streetcar named Desire) After the extraordinary television adaptation of "Angels in America" I also would have pleaded with Mike Nichols to do "Closer" Sorry I'm rambling. What I'm trying to say in a rather convoluted way is, simply, thank you Mr. Nichols. Adult themes, conceived and performed by adult artists. I hope it makes zillions of dollars so we can have more of it. Jude Law is a Peter O'Toole without the steroids, Julia Roberts a Jeanne Moreau with an American passport, Clive Owen is a child of John Garfield and Peter Finch and Natalie Portman a Jean Peters with a college degree. I saw the film twice in a row, I hadn't done that in years. Not since "Drugstore Cowboy", "Apartment Zero" and "Sex Lies and Videotape" The unfolding of the dark happens in front of our eyes and it feels chillingly familiar. Lies we tell each other with so much conviction with so much honesty. The only real thing is the pain and the loneliness. It doesn't sound like a very entertaining night out but believe me, it is. Go, see for yourself. You may have to confront something you didn't want to confront. That's part of the process call growing up. Who's afraid of that?
What a treat. Most of the people who came with me, left, half way through the film. I stayed to the end and I loved it. It moved me. A rarity this days. The face of Jude Law is, still, so full of possibilities. He seems unafraid of darkness. Strong. This is his most grown up performance. I can't wait to see what he'll become. (If he stays away from Hollywood as much as temptations permit, and keeps that purity, that makes his darkness so powerful, as intact as humanly possible). Julia Roberts is wonderful in a performance part Margaret Sullavan, part Jeanne Moreau but all her own. Clive Owen is a force of nature. Dangerous, compelling, human to the hilt. And what about Natalie Portman? Wow. No surprise here. But what a surprise. I'm sure she is going to amaze us for years and years to come. I'm really glad I stayed to the end.
It's once in a very rare time that I go to the movies and I'm treated as an adult. I see a film that is intelligent, thought provoking, provocative and rawly realistic. Closer is that film. It present an honest portrayal of four severely unlikable characters and they screw with each others love lives back and forth. The film is told in adult sporting complexity through the growing plot points , the way it's filled and it's tasty advancing dialogue. Everyone in the film turns in a powerhouse performance worthy of Oscar consideration. Ms. Portman is wonderful as Alice shedding her blockbuster star wars acting skills and portraying someone multi dimensional with heart and pizazz. Julia Roberts stars as Anna in a cold, subtle performance which will leave audiences appreciating her acting believability as she pounces through each of her scenes with charismatic force. Jude law and Clive Owen are the real surprises here both turning in wonderfully appealing performance. Strong, weak, flawed and memorable. Especially whose last outing was the entertaining but mediocre action summer pic King Arthur. The film has wonderfully tight direction and sports beautifully placid colors and a fine adult score. The film draws dangerously close to being a near perfect film. I only wish it could've gone on for abit longer I wasn't completely satisfied to the ends of the characters on which we were give. but life itself isn't perfect or satisfying and this is a slick of someones life. Rush out and go see Closer! Oner of the best film's of the year!
This is the most honest film I've ever seen. Although I'm sure there are critics out there who will comment on the explicit language rather than the story, anyone who's ever been in a dysfunctional relationship can relate to at least some part of this film. I for one found it a very personal and shockingly accurate depiction of how human beings use love and sex to unintentionally destroy each other. The performances were magnificent from all angles. Mike Nichols has done it again. This film is "Carnal Knowledge" for the new millennium. If the Academy does not recognize "Closer" as a Best Picture candidate, then the Academy should no longer be recognized as the authority on achievement in film... yes, it's that good.
I saw a sneak preview of this film and thought it would be good but was
stunned by its unique flavor and strong character arcs that leaves you
wondering if you're watching a Mamet play or a classic film.
The story gets more and more complex and the acting is so superb that it adds a certain believability to it that would lack with a less reputable cast. Jude Law is as always sensational as a variant of his Alfie charaacter, and Natalie Portman has reached a level of maturity that was truly surprising, not to mention wearing some of the sexiest stripper outfits one can imagine. And Clive Owen is a perfect match for Jude that turns into a perfect ego cock match that creates so much delightful drama that you wonder how far they will push the edge. There are parts of the story that seem a bit far-fetched but its Hollywood baby so with this stellar cast you let a few issues like that fly because you truly are at the edge of your seat wondering how twisted these two pairs of lovers will get.
If you happen to have just finished with a relationship or been cheated on recently id highly advise to bring your heart ready for rampage or lots of tissues but its depth is so provocative that you leave the theatre with so many questions about your own personal life - which personally is what makes the difference between a basic movie and a magical one that literally makes one believe you're watching a true story.
Enjoy and hope you never run into one of these characters.!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Mike Nichols delivers his best work yet. CLOSER is a well crafted dissertation on art's reflection of the human condition, particularly the dependence on romantic relationships. It delivers an intimate film that actually achieves depths rarely seen on screen. Kubrick's Eye's Wide Shut only scratched the surface of literal naked lies that represent sexual game-playing on screen. His work came off as a freshman treatise on relationships in a pervy, self-obsessed way. Nichols and screenwriter Patrick Marber deliver a full and rich study on the difficulties of love and sexual tension. Without ever showing a sex scene on screen they are able to portray the nasty nature of jealously, lust and obsession without actually exploiting these acts as Kubrick and countless others have done. The result is a pure _expression of the realization that we don't know anything when it comes to assessing truth in character.
Alice (Natalie Portman), a former stripper, is hit by a car in London as she forgets to look right. Dan (Jude Law) comes to her rescue and guides her to the hospital before guiding her into his life. Dan writes obituaries but soon finds a novel in himself thanks to Alice. While shooting the photo for his book he falls for the photographer Anna (Julie Roberts) who pulls back from him given that he's with Alice. For light-style revenge Dan sets up Larry (Clive Owen) in an Internet sex chat room to meet Anna thinking this will embarrass him and her. Cupid backfires thus throwing Larry and Anna into a relationship of their own. First impressions, like all art, can only show you broad strokes of character like stereotypes and lies. Alice is presented as a young girl in need of saving, literally. Anna is a strong, independent artist who seems smart in her career and choices. Dan is a struggling, sensitive writer in search of a muse, someone to inspire and rescue. Larry is a sex obsessed dermatologist and self-described caveman. By the end of the film, however, the audience will get a deeper and more profound view of all four characters and realize we just don't know them as well as we think.
Acknowledging that film can be art, the screenwriter is skilled with dialog that reflects the illusionary quality that is art. Every piece of conversation, every word has meaning, reflection and sometimes foreboding for what is to come and the gaps in story and exposition brilliantly leads the audience to fill in those elements with their own interpretations. It is those interpretations and broad-stroke impressions that the film is there to question. Alice, in the scene at Anna's photo exhibit, discusses this very concept to Larry when discussing her reaction to the photos and the show. The function is just a big lie, the glossy photos of people's faces don't' show the real person, the fancy people at the party only reflect that same quality. Everything is for surface show - one-dimensional illusions of character. Alice, Anna, Dan and Larry are those photos just in moving form but that makes all the difference. The movement and editing of the film allows us to jump through months and years of their relationships to unpeel parts of the illusion of character and stereotypes. We can explore wrong assumptions about characters and that should make us explore the real-world difficulties of knowing people, really knowing them and not just their image or attitude. Many will just see this film as a sad story of four wounded people making bad relationship choices. This is really sad because this film is truly a great wake-up call to humanity to embrace a new approach and attitude about art and people. Strength can be a weakness. Vulnerability can be empowering. Dependence can be comforting. Nothing can be valued or viewed without bias and prejudice. Great art, like this film, can sometimes achieve a new way to show us how wrong we can be when we let our bias prevent us from just experiencing life and being open to shifts in perception. So take a closer look, at this film and the life around you. You just might find happiness in walking away from the expected.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Have you ever seen a human heart? It looks like a fist wrapped in
blood.... Only in the film Closer can the universal symbol for love and
devotion be brutally manipulated into a tool, one whose sole purpose is
to express men's vile and barbaric proclivities. But this isn't your
ordinary love story, in fact when viewing Mike Nichols newest drama,
you can throw everything you thought you knew about modern
relationships out the window. In Closer, your best bet is to expect the
If you are searching for a traditional romance of sorts, this isn't the film to turn to. If you are searching for a film to bolster up your Holiday spirit in anticipation for the Christmas season, then have a Jimmy Stewart marathon. But, if you are open to the idea of seeing a film thick with hostility, brutal honesty and dizzying intellect... then this could be a film that could satisfy your expectations. Let it be said, that at the very least this is a film to be marveled. It is such a well-crafted production, that you can't help but appreciate the obvious talent that went in to making this movie look as glossy and stylish as it does. Not to mention, how splendid the cast is... I only wish I could say the same for the characters that they play...
These gorgeous creatures, exude radiance and outer beauty, yet what lies within their psyche is brutal and cold. Based on pre-conceived notions, it's hard to see 'America's Sweetheart', Julia Roberts, or the charming Brit, Jude Law utter such biting, vicious, and somewhat disturbing statements. The character's have virtually no consciences, and care about little more than appeasing their own personal urges and impulses. The men in particular seem to be the most primitive in their acting upon their animalistic instincts. Although, the woman are far from innocent. Each of the four leads harbors a series of secrets they are hesitant to unleash upon their counterparts. This blanket of mystery leads each to act in contemptible ways. The character's are all terribly detestable and obnoxious, yet still put on a facade of refinement. It's unbelievable how articulate and intelligent these characters really are. Every line that comes out of their mouth has an aura of brilliance, and while one may find their comments offensive, you can't deny that there is a lot of truth behind their sentiments. The dialogue drives the film, and serves as another artistic device for the director... it is truly poetic. The entire film is in essence, a critique on the human race... a social commentary that exposes the underbelly of the modern relationship. A disheartening subject to be sure, and Nichols does not shy away from stating it like it is.
The story basically revolves around four characters and the ensuing relations between them. It is a very slow moving film driven entirely by the intelligent, cynical and piercing dialogue that spills out of the character's mouths. There are probably only ten scenes in the whole film, which goes to show you how lengthy each episode runs. Yet, I never felt as though time was standing still... I was so wrapped up in the character's lives and their ever present struggles to worry about the scene's length. A technique that was implemented by the veteran director, Mike Nichols is that there is no real sense of time in the film. The story spans over four years, a gimmick which I thought was a brilliant way to disorient the audience into the same dizzying mindset the characters themselves possess.
The four leads, are remarkably and perhaps unrealistically witty... Yet, in many instances they use this uncanny intelligence in ways that make you cringe with disapproval. Those with an optimistic attitude, would be best off suspending disbelief while watching this film. An open mind is a must, and if you are easily offended... then you'd be best off watching Disney cartoons or after-school specials. This movie doesn't even attempt at hiding behind MPAA restrictions, and instead pushes the limits by having the entire film revolve around the 'behind closed doors' aspects of a relationship. Sexual slurs, derogatory statements, and painful betrayal all pollute what in an idealistic world would be a text-book perfect relationship. Don't expect a happy ending. But, be sure to expect dialogue that sizzles and pops, and stings those who it is directed at. C|oser is a film that divides audiences like none I have seen before. Love it or hate it, you will be glad you saw it... 3.5/4
The strength of Closer, both as a play and a motion picture, is the
flawless, mature and beautifully crafted dialogue. Patrick Marber's
screenplay is a testament to his truly great writing ability, as not
much of the original text needed to be adapted in order to work
appropriately and effectively on screen.
The raw emotion and base convictions of these four tragic characters (all acted exquisitly) is given to us primarily through their words and those words are all we need.
If you need more than words and are looking for a feel good love story, steer clear, you will only be disappointed.
However, if you are looking for a piece that will intrigue your senses, causing you to examine your own soul, your own convictions, then I highly recommend Closer.
Like Shakespeare, Williams, and O'Neil, whose words are a testament to the condition of their lives and times, Marber, through his language and presentation of these four exquisite lost souls, forces the mind to acknowledge and deal with the most base of our natural tendencies, painting a brutally honest portriat of the human condition in the 21st century.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Given that the National Board of Reviewers ranked "Closer" as the third
best movie of 2004 (behind "The Aviator" and "Finding Neverland"), I'm
still stunned at how patently ridiculous it was. As one friend said
afterward, "I'm in the mood for something relatively painless--like a
full-body chemical peel."
If you're expecting a movie that faithfully portrays relationships between men and women (at least those folks who live off Broadway and outside of Hollywood), you won't find it represented in a single frame of this movie. For 100 minutes--going on six hours--my friends and I waited for a recognizable human presence to grace the screen. Instead, here's what we learned from the alien life forms responsible for "Closer":
1) Julia Roberts has one acting pose: stare off-camera and look pensive.
2) Clive Owens has two acting emotions: fresh-shaved and unshaven.
3) Jude Law decided to reprise his role as the robot in "A.I." in every movie he's appeared in this year.
4) Natalie Portman has never been in a strip club. (Her 'pole-dancing' maneuvers--apparently inspired by her turn in "Mars Attacks!"--provided the movie with the most unintentionally campy scene since 'Showgirls.')
5) The screenwriter has never been in a relationship. (And if he has, he simply wasn't paying attention.)
6) When straight couples tell each other they've been cheating, they act excruciatingly polite for several minutes (except Julia Roberts, who stares off-camera and looks pensive). Then the cheated-upon will ask the cheating spouse how the sex was and insist on hearing the explicit details. This is the part of the discussion that finally gets a response, ranging on the emotional spectrum from the kissing and hugging one usually experiences during such fondly remembered heart-to-heart talks to exquisitely scripted battles of screaming wits.
7) Internet sex chats are astonishingly tedious on film, but are useful budget savers for the director who wants to make a 100-minute movie seem like six hours.
8) American women who live in England are willing to have sex to get whatever they want--even to get their ex-spouses to sign their divorce papers. (You have to see this scene to believe it has actually been committed to film.)
9) Audience-goers laugh at clichés. The more movies the cliché has been used in; the harder they'll laugh. (Then again, given how many people left the theater, maybe they were laughing at the movie itself.)
10) The new Hollywood formula requires a "surprise" twist at the ending, even when it's not a surprise.
I haven't seen so many people walk out of a movie in years--and this was on the East Side of New York, which has a high tolerance for the inertness and amateurishness one often sees in "art" films. At the end, there was mostly booing and catcalls from the survivors, accompanied (oddly enough) by a scattering of applause--from those, I would imagine, who were probably relieved that the rolling credits didn't show the outtakes.
Every once in a while, I'll see a low-budget independent "gay film" that is so lifeless that I am embarrassed for "my people." It's nice to know that there are equally unwatchable "straight movies" about relationships (although with Hollywood budgets, celebrity casts, and big-name directors).
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