Monday, December 06, 2004

Closer, And Maybe A Cigar:
Challenging Play Becomes Challenging Movie

Not your feel-good movie of the year, but certainly worthwhile, "Closer" hit US theaters this weekend and I saw it yesterday with my friend Christi. This dark 1997 Patrick Marber play, filmed faithfully by Mike Nichols, centers on mindgames and verbal slashing among a quadrangle centered on two selfish, indecisive lovers, deftly rendered by Jude Law (looking unkempt and insecure, pictured left) and Julia Roberts (hiding her trademark charisma and smile under layers of ennui, desire, and detachment). But the show is really stolen by Natalie Portman (also pictured left) and Clive Owen, playing their respective partners - each suffers searing rejection, wallows in the wound, and then deftly turns the tables. Razor-sharp dialogue, unpredictability, and stark performances elevate this bleak and unsympathetic landscape, and more than compensate for occasional stiffness and claustrophobia, and for the generally unsympathetic characters that are the film's focus. The film jumps through time, often not showing key scenes, and letting the audience discover events through their echoes in the characters' conversations. It'll keep your gray matter active, that's for sure...

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