Closer (2004) — The fallout of rampant promiscuity

“What are you – TWELVE?”

Sue’s rating: Amazed and appalled.

Sue’s review: Justin is going to kill me. Queue notwithstanding, this is the first review I’ve written since witnessing the ultimate mutant marriage, so it’s probably beyond unseemly that I’m covering a movie that screams INFIDELITY in big neon letters. I’m really sorry. I didn’t know what I was getting into until I popped it in the DVD player. And now I’m so disgusted that I need to vent. So Justin’s going to kill me and leave my children orphans. (Although Detroit’ll probably be buried in ten feet of snow until August, so I have plenty of time to change my identity and run for the border.)

Anyway, before you all start divvying up my worldly possessions, let’s get the low-down on what was an acclaimed and even popular film in the theaters and then I’ll tell you why I hate it.

Based on the play by the same name, Closer’s cast is small but mighty with Julia Roberts, Natalie Portman, Clive Owen and the ever-present and oh-so-pretty Jude Law. Our heroes and heroines (though I use those words loosely) play a photographer, a stripper, a dermatologist and an obituraist respectively. You can’t say they aren’t diverse career choices!

At the beginning of the movie, Law and Portman’s characters experience the phenomenon known as “love at first sight”. This is fine except that not long after, Law and Roberts’s characters experience the phenomenon known as “love at first sight”. Then Roberts and Owens. Then Roberts and Law. Then, perhaps, Owens and Portman, followed by Roberts and Owens and, oh heck, I lost track. Suffice to say the entire movie is a square-dance of lust, love, obsession and misery. Screw someone else’s partner, do-se-d’oh!

Technically, TECHNICALLY, it was an interesting sort of film. With (apparently) very few changes made from the stage production, there’s very little action and relatively few sets. Closer is almost entirely driven by its dialogue, and even I can admit that it’s well written and beautifully performed.

Some of the connections between the characters are a stretch — I don’t think the Internet is small enough for Law’s character to have connected specifically with Owen’s character for a bit of prankish cyber-nookie leading to the mobius loop of carnality that it did — but that’s neither here nor there. The passage of large chunks of time revealed only by casual conversational asides was also a little disorienting. (“Golly, we’ve been together for a whole year!”, “Can you believe we’re married now?”, “Gee whilickers, time flies when you’re a sex crazed lust bunny in this film!”) I can forgive it because that’s a very necessary device in many stage productions, but I wish they’d found a less clumsy way to handle it. Anyway, Closer is a classy, well-written and well-acted film. See, I can be objective.

What annoys the living heck out of me isn’t the fact that someone cheated on someone else in the story. I’m not even quite so bothered that EVERYONE cheated on everyone else, although as I’ve mentioned in other reviews (Alfie, Young Adam), that rampant promiscuity is one of my personal flashpoints. What killed me was the repetitiveness of the confessions and the predictability of the aftermaths. Every single episode went something like this:

Character A: I slept with Character C. and I feel just terrible about this but I’m leaving you for him/her and I don’t want you upset. Forgive me?
Character B: Sure, although I’m completely devastated and might never recover.

Character A: That was too easy. Are you sleeping with someone else?

Character B: Yes. I’m sleeping with D. [[Alternate answer: I’ll be sleeping with D. imminently.]]

Character A: You [insert exceedinly naughty word(s) here]!!!!!! How could you do that to me?!!!!!!

After the first four or five times, it was sort of tedious, y’know?

Plus, there’s the problem of learning very little about the characters aside from their professions and the fact that they’re all tortured by the aforementioned promiscuity (theirs and everyone elses’). It’s very hard to connect emotionally to any of these people because they’re all self-centered bundles of ill-advised and unstable hormonal urges. I was unable to sympathize with any of them and by halfway through the film, I seriously didn’t give a rip about how the story would end. A pox on them all. Sheesh, if one of them did happen to have the pox, that’s pretty much a foregone conclusion anyway.

The only thing I found myself truly intrigued by, was the tagline: “If you believe in love at first sight, you never stop looking.” What an incredibly cynical statement — and yet I think there’s a lot of truth to it. The rush that comes with new love, or new lust as the case probably was, is an incredibly powerful feeling — and like all powerful feelings, I can certainly understand the addictive potential there. After all, that’s how most affairs are started — from that search to recreate the buzz of new romance or desire.

Still, when I feel more impact from a tagline than I did from the entire movie, I can’t call the project a rollicking success.

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