catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 3, Num 22 :: 2004.12.31 — 2005.01.13


The subtle uses of the knife

Relationships are highly overrated. So say a few of my brothers as they slog though the deep muck of the dating scene. It seems that “love” is highly elusive, and the search for that “perfect” someone more often than not leads to a series of jading dead ends. But, in the movies, this is rarely the case. Rarely does the search lead anywhere but to that perfect guy or girl who makes all their dreams reality and introduces an ease of relationship that is at best fictional. Not so in Mike Nichols Closer

. Closer portrays the lives of four profoundly messed up people who cannot live without the feeling of “love” but cannot bear the responsibility of a relationship.

Closer follows the lives of Dan, Alice, Larry, and Anna as they traipse through the City of London in search of the perfect relationship. Dan meets Alice though a rather abrupt car accident. An author and an obituary writer, he is working on a novel which changes into a semi-biographical novel about Alice. His success as a writer leads him to Anna during a photo shoot. He tries to seduce her while still with Alice but Anna deftly dodges the bullet. Later we meet Larry who spends his time as a doctor writing prescriptions for patients and in his spare time surfing the Internet for Sex Chat Rooms, and inadvertently runs into Dan posing as Anna. They agree to meet, and he happens to meet the real Anna. They begin to go out together. Dan and Anna have an affair. Larry and Anna get married. Dan and Alice break up the same night that Dan and Anna break up. Larry meets Alice in a strip club where she “dances.” They have an affair. Larry meets Anna to sign the divorce papers and has sex “for old times sake” with her. Dan finds out. Leaves Anna. Finds Alice. Anna and Larry re-marry. Dan finds out about Alice sleeping with Larry. They break up. Alice returns to New York. Everyone has been sliced open.

So, why in the world would I want to see this? Well, this movie exposes the faultiness of the “sex-as-pure-animal-instinct” belief. The whole “if it feels good” movement, that has led to our rather loose lifestyle, is exposed as the destruction of our lives. The emotional attachment that these people have with each other turns into a pure power struggle of control v. love. The only love they know is the thrill of the early, sex-crazed days. But, when the going gets tough and the relationship grows mundane, the need for control becomes the primary driving force. So, these four struggle in this battle of wits and sex for the right to leave or stay.

Secondly, it shows how truth can be used as a most vicious weapon. These characters use the truth of their relationships as one would use a knife to stab someone and then watch them bleed. They withhold information and starve their partners with lies, or they scream their actions with little remorse as they watch their partners breakdown.

The sins of selfishness and desperation conspire to trap these four in a web that none of them can escape. And isn’t that the way of the world. Even for the Christian, whose every action should strive to be more like Christ, will find himself trapped in his own desires and in his struggle for control of a life that he could never manage on his own.

The performances in this movie are spot on. And once again Natalie Portman shows that she is not fly-by-night actor. Her centered and subtle performance rings true and resonates against the harsh symphony of this movie. Julia Roberts, Clive Owen, and Jude Law all turn in understated performances that show off their rather expansive talent.

This is not a movie for all. Those of you who are offended by harsh language or who need not see severely sexually charged scenes need to avoid this movie. Yet, the message is clear and true. If you can manage to stomach it you will be rewarded with a glimpse of our common darkness, and if you can discuss it afterwards you will find that this dark film has might have changed your view of sin.

This review was originally published by The Film Forum.

your comments

comments powered by Disqus