Going In:

The trailer intrigued me and how can you go wrong with this amazing cast?!

Review:

What a colossal disappointment!! What a mammoth waste of time! What a tremendous waste of money!! I don’t know where to begin explaining how disappointed I was with this film. Closer is a naughty, surprising, bore of a film. Maybe I expected too much in thinking there would be an interesting story and compelling characters. Maybe I gave this amazing cast too much credit. Or maybe this is just one of the most disappointing films of the year.

“Closer” follows the lives of four strangers (Natalie Portman, Jude Law, Julia Roberts, Clive Owen) and how their lives are hopelessly connected. It basically tells the story of lost loves and failed relationships. Everyone cheats on everyone else and then they argue about it. That should have been the tagline on the poster, because that’s the plot in a nutshell. This is a very serious film with only a few moments of humor (a rather risqué, though hilarious, internet chat.) The dark tone of the film hangs over the audience like a black cloud and really dampens any enjoyment of the movie. More humor would have been a welcome addition to the piles of hopelessness shoveled into the audience members’ laps.

“Closer” features a copious amount of off-color dialog that serves no purpose other than to shock the audience with its unneeded vulgarity. Gasps could be heard throughout the theater as disgustingly obscene word vomit spewed from the mouths of the A-list stars. I was embarrassed for the women in the audience. The ladies in front of me buried their faces into their hands. I was embarrassed to be there with my wife although she fell asleep 30 minutes into it. I was embarrassed for the parents who made the awful mistake of bringing their children. I was embarrassed for Julia Roberts’ reputation. I was embarrassed for the filmmakers involved.

I wasn’t embarrassed simply because of the unnecessary vulgarity; I was also embarrassed for the filmmakers because of the absolute bore of a film that they no doubt poured their souls into. There were glimpses of greatness throughout, teasing us with what it could have been. Unfortunately, in the end it was just a movie about nothing. It was basically a showcase for the actors. There were plenty of conversations and arguments but they all ended up sounding the same. This film was a valiant effort by director, Mike Nichols. Unfortunately, oftentimes the more Herculean the effort, the more epic the failure is in the end. That is most definitely the case here.

Nichols’ film jumps through time unexpectedly whenever a major event takes place. At first these strange leaps were interesting, but eventually they grew very tiring. It became work to try and figure out where we were now as an audience, and why we were there. The film doesn’t jump between characters revealing clues or surprises as some multi-layered movies like to do. The way it is handled in “Closer” feels much more like a trick, or an unnecessary attempt at fancy filmmaking.

Watching the movie unfold, it was very evident that the screenplay had been adapted from a stage play. The film concerns itself more with conversations than it does with plot. There really is no story. Every major “event” (if you can call them that) happens off-screen. The audience is treated to heated arguments sparked by these events but we never actually see anything happen. Much of the movie involves simply watching the characters react to an event that unfolded off-screen.

Now for the good: The performances were fantastic. Each actor did a terrific job with the part he or she had. Julia Roberts was probably the weakest of the four and Clive Owens was probably the strongest (please hire this guy as the next James Bond.) All four really did do a wondrous job though. The problem is that the characters had no redeeming values whatsoever and the audience never feels any sort of connection with any of them. By the end of the movie, I couldn’t even name 2 of the 4 main character’s names. Maybe that’s inexcusable on my part, but I tend to blame the inability of the director to connect with the audience. Make no mistake about it. This isn’t a movie – it’s simply a sequence of conversations. It’s a vignette of arguments, an exhibition of acting, and a parade of excessive exposition.

Conclusion:

If director Mike Nichols was trying to shock the audience with his film he has succeeded. I was completely surprised that he could take such a talented cast and make such a terrible movie.

Rated R for making Julia Roberts sound naughty

Closer Review
Storytelling1.5
Craftsmanship7
Performances8
Satisfaction1
The Good
  • The Cast
  • The Performances
Oh So Ugly
  • No cohesion
  • No recognizable narrative
  • What a waste of talent
4.4Rancid
Reader Rating: (0 Votes)
0.0

About The Author

By day I’m a producer/director at a video game development studio. By night, I’m… um… yeah, i’m usually just a more tired producer/director at a video game development studio. BUT, by weekend I’m a husband, father, and critic of all things.