Example Of Closer Movie Review
Type of paper: Movie Review
Topic: Film, Cinema, Character, Ethics, Relationships, Truth, Time, Dialogue
Closer was directed by Mike Nichols and released in 2004. It is a romantic drama that intertwines the lives of four people. Alice Ayres (Natalie Portman) and Dan Woolf (Jude Law) meet each other on the streets of London. They meet and start a relationship which continues for a year. Dan writes a book about Alice’s troubled past as a stripper. As the relationship strains, Dan tries to start an affair with the publicity photographer, Anna Cameron (Julia Roberts). She hesitates, kisses him and relents. Alice enters the room as Dan leaves and makes Anna aware that Dan is her and hers alone. Dan is obsessed with Anna and stalks her for another year. This leads to him impersonating Anna in a sex chat room conversing with Larry Gray (Clive Owen). The sexual conversation leads Larry to meeting Anna at an aquarium. Anna realizes that Larry has been set up but still decides to enter into a relationship with Larry. Four months pass by and Anna is holding an exhibition for her work. Dan and Alice attend. During this event and soon after, Dan and Anna start an affair. Larry at the same event meets up with Alice seduced by her sultry innocence but doesn’t pursue her. Dan and Anna’s affair continues for a year leading to both of them revealing their affair to their other half. Sometime later, Larry meets with Alice who is working as a stripper in a club. He tries to get her to sleep with him but she refuses. A few months later, Dan is made aware by Anna that she slept with Larry again to sign the divorce papers. Dan is disgusted by this and confronts Larry. Larry tells him of Alice’s whereabouts with a parting shot that he slept with her. When Alice takes Dan back, he insists on finding out if Larry did sleep with her. She refuses to answer which leads to violence and her leaving Dan for good. Anna gets back with Larry, Alice returns to America and Dan is left alone. It is revealed that Alice’s real name is Jane Jones and that she had lied to Dan through the course of four years in their relationship.
The film is essentially a narrative on the meaning of truth. What is the meaning of truth? The film consistently puts these questions to the audience through the use of its characters, locations and dialogue. For instance, take the scene when Alice meets with Anna. Anna had kissed Dan a moment earlier but wasn’t aware of Dan’s relationship with Alice. As Alice is alone with Anna, She reveals to Anna she is aware that Dan is trying to have an affair with Anna. This interplay speaks to the larger theme of truth within the film. The characters are hiding their true inner beings of morality. According to Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun Times, “Anna, the photographer, is accurately sniffed out by Alice as a possible lover of Dan. "I'm not a thief, Alice," she says, but she is” (par.7). Alice herself is a person who keeps her inner most secrets to herself. She was/is a stripper. She takes her clothes off to make money. Like most strippers, they never reveal their true names. They reveal their whole bodies without revealing their souls. This is most relevant as she even gives Dan a false name throughout their four year relationship. On the flip side, Dan is perhaps the most innocent character of the film. He wants to be bad but fails at that as well. He ends the film as he started it. Alone. Larry is conceivably the most true to his primal nature. He enjoys the act of sex and is quite revealing to it. When he meets Anna in the aquarium, he speaks of how humans were fish at one point of time hinting at his belief in the theory of evolution. Of all the character, he is possibly the most that even telling Anna that he had an affair and seeks forgiveness. He only lies to hurt as he insists to Dan that he had sex with Alice. Truth is the constant factor throughout each scene dialogue and character.
As the concept of truth is expanded upon, there are many scenes that are in constant play.
The film is non linear in its narrative. There are several time jumps as years and months pass by. For instance, when Dan meets Alice for the first time and takes a stroll through the cemetery, the next scene goes into the photography studio with Dan and Anna. It’s made clear in dialogue that Dan has been seeing Alice for a year as his book on her is to be published. The concept of these time jumps serves the theme as time and truth are relative putting the audience in a state of bewilderment. It puts forth that as the line between truth and lies are crossed and blurred, time passes by quickly for the characters. Towards the end of the film as Dan realizes that Anna slept with Larry to sign the divorce papers, it is shown as a flashback compared to the linear time jumps seen throughout the film. The director uses this more as a ploy to fool the audience that the scene between Larry and Anna takes place later.
The performances in the film are breathtaking. Natalie Portman portrays Alice as a voracious seductress who is looking to be tamed. She is able to convey the loneliness that her character suffers and longs for closer intimacy. The equal of her performance is Clive Owen as Larry. He is brash and unapologetic. His character is simplistic to the point where there are no shades of grey but black and white. He portrays his character with a sense of will and purpose.
The cinematography drives the theme of the film forward. For instance, in several scenes, the characters are shot in wide close up. The camera follows them and stays with them without cutting from the scene. Take the scene in the nightclub when Larry meets Alice again. The lighting is darkly lit with Alice being shot from a close-up but the camera never focuses on her face. This hint at the character of Alice who can bare her body to the world but not her soul.
In regards to the editing, the editing is crisp and moves the plot of the film forward. Take the scene where Alice is being photographed by Anna. As Alice is crying near the window, Anna takes her picture. The scene then cuts to the sex chat room scene between Dan and Larry. This sequence where the editor cuts as Alice is crying is indicative of the fact that Dan is cheating on Alice. While he is doing so to play a trick on Anna, it provides a glimpse into his cheating nature.
The art direction is superb at times during the film. Take the private room scene between Alice and Larry. The camera shoots from a high angle wide shot. Larry is centered on the middle with a blue circular light surrounding him as Alice is in the corner with the camera seeing only her pink wig. This again harkens to the fact how Larry is characterized. He believes himself to be the centre of the world and that any woman wants him. With the camera only seeing Alice’s pink wig, it portrays her character as shrouded in darkness.
Mike Nichols is an actor’s director. He prefers to push every scene forward with dialogue, character and performance as opposed to cinematography. While the scenes are well framed, there is far more emphasis on performance than anything else within the film.
Closer could come across to others as a murky romantic drama with minimalistic dialogue. But if one were to look beneath the surface, they will find that the film speaks on the notion of truth and further on the meaning of love to different people.
Ebert, Roger. "Closer Movie Review & Film Summary (2004) | Roger Ebert."All Content. 2 Dec. 2004. Web. 23 Mar. 2015. http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/closer-2004
Closer. Perf. Jude Law, Julia Roberts, Natalie Portman, Clive Owen. Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment :, 2004. DVD.