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December 6, 2004


Closer: the album, the movie


Much like the Joy Division album of the same name, Mike Nichols' new movie Closer has a beautiful surface (pretty people, sleek sets) and a deep, dark pit of gloom on the inside. The movie is a morbid rumination on human weakness and all the horrible and manipulative things we can do to each other. Dark stuff, sure, and sometimes it feels a little too stagy (the script was adapted from a play, and sometimes you can tell) but the structure is tight and the performances are surprisingly good.

You know who delivered one of the best performances of the movie? Julia Roberts (I know!) More than any of the other actors, and yes I'm looking at you, Natalie Portman, Julia Roberts communicates a sense of weary experience--she understands people and their inevitably painful romances, and while she's not too thrilled about going through another couple of rounds, she can't resist getting sucked in.

Natalie Portman, on the other hand, was miscast. If you're looking for someone to play a damaged girl who has seen too much of the world for her young age, yet is still hopeful in an immature kind of way, you probably should not cast squeaky-clean little Natalie Portman. She's the only child of a wealthy and protective doctor from Long Island, and it comes through too much in this movie. She comes across as a Harvard psych student trying to pretend she's a fucked up stripper who's seen it all, and it doesn't work. In the past, Natalie has rejected a lot of other roles that she thought were too perverse or morally questionable, and her instincts have been right--she just can't do those kinds of roles. Christina Ricci apparently has taken a number of her rejects (for example The Ice Storm.) I don't think Christina would have been the right person for this part either (ADM thinks possibly Julia Stiles?) Granted, this character is also probably the worst written of the four--many of the revelations about her that are supposed to be clever turn out to be predictable and uninteresting.

As always, Clive Owen is awesome. Remember how great and intense he was in The Bourne Identity, in which he had like 3 lines? The most difficult and least likeable role in the movie was given to Clive Owen, and without him playing it as well as he does, the movie would fall apart. He's just about the most talented actor around these days. He also has the ability, despite being very handsome, to look like a wild-eyed shambling disaster when he doesn't shave.

The heart-warming lesson to take away from this movie, after all the betrayals and cruelty and guilt, is this: if you cheat on your partner, just lie about it. Don't tell them. Also, London strip clubs apparently play the same Prodigy CD every night.

categories: Movies
posted by amy at 9:32 AM | #

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