Awaited with eager anticipation by fans of the original hit Broadway production, the extraordinary “Closer” features an artful directorial style along with a cast of bona fide stars. It is rare that established actors such as the four leads — Jude Law, Natalie Portman, Clive Owen and Julia Roberts — will put their images at risk by playing contemptible characters driven by lust, revenge and hatred.
Law plays Dan, a failed writer who sees himself as a sort of romantic but comes across as a sniveling coward. This is undoubtedly the apex of Law’s acting career; this performance proves that he can play a character who’s not a charming womanizer. Portman plays stripper Alice, Dan’s beloved, whose vivid portrayal puts to rest doubts concerning her Golden Globe to rest. Owen, perhaps the least famous of the quartet, steals the show as despicable doctor Larry. Forced to become the nastiest character, Owen’s character convincingly derives pleasure from the pain caused by his razor-sharp tongue. Roberts plays Anna, a vulnerable American photographer. Despite being the most heralded star in the cast, she is also, surprisingly, the weakest.
As an adaptation of a play, “Closer” is full of the witty, eloquent dialogue used onstage but often lost in film. It is a complex movie, and the complete extent of the plot doesn’t become apparent until the last scene. Although the explicit language can be distracting, “Closer” is frightfully appealing because it is so different from the kinds of films audiences have come to expect. The subtle details may be lost on some, but for others, this will make this film stand apart from its contemporaries.
The picture and sound quality of this DVD are crisp and pristine. Each scene is picturesque with sharp, distinct colors. However, the extras are extremely disappointing: The only feature included is a music video of the movie’s theme song, “The Blower’s Daughter,” by Irish singer/songwriter Damien Rice.
Ultimately, “Closer” uses its eclectic cast of stars and careful nuance to fashion an offbeat film fueled by emotions that viewers don’t want to admit exist within them. It has divided audiences more than any other recent film and begs the question: Is it because viewers don’t want to see their favorite stars acting like despicable human beings, or is it because they are scared to see how close they are to becoming like them?
Film: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Features: No stars
Picture/Sound: 4 out of 5 stars