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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Closer - Superbit
Closer - Superbit
Columbia/Tri-Star // R // March 29, 2005
List Price: $28.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Scott Lecter | posted March 13, 2005 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
E - M A I L
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P R I N T
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The Movie:
There is a specific moment near the end of Closer that transforms it from being a very good film into a great film. It is, in actuality, two brief moments that achieve this transformation, but they happen so quickly and subtly that you just might miss them if you turn away for even an instant. These moments, however, are so powerful that they succeed in wrapping up the entire ethos of the film. I don't want to say exactly which moments I'm referring to, but suffice to say that they are exactly what made the film stick in my head for days on end when I first saw it.

Adapted by Patrick Marber, from his own stage play, Closer does what few films have the tenacity and courage to do; it tackles the subject of relationships with honesty and an unrelenting vow to seek the truth about the four people entwined in each other's lives. The film is about as unapologetic about deception and infidelity as films get these days, and for this very reason it provides the most truthful view of relationships I've seen on film in a long time.

Director Mike Nichols pulls no punches, and ultimately makes you leave the film feeling like you need to take a bath just to get all the filth off. These four characters - through all their lying and sleeping around and self-destructive behavior - are so absolutely devoid of the ability to love one another (or themselves) that they can't help but make each other miserable. But, as they always say, misery loves company. No matter how badly they treat each other, they ultimately need each other. The closer they actually come to the truth - with themselves, with each other, with everyone else around them - the farther apart they grow.

You'd think it would be absolutely impossible to enjoy watching such detestable people have at each other for the duration of the film, but the performances of the four lead actors are so well done that you nearly feel sympathy for their characters. They own these characters, and every single time one of them is on screen, you can't help but feel that there's some deep-seeded wound that never had time to heal. Each character is simply too strong-willed and stubborn to recognize it. Larry (Clive Owen) wasn't always the "caveman" he says he is and Dan (Jude Law) didn't always cry for his mother at night. At least this is what the power of these performances allows you to believe. Julia Roberts, Jude Law, and the Academy Award®-Nominated Natalie Portman and Clive Owen (who actually played the part of Dan in the stage play) are what make these characters fun to watch, and not simply four annoying, bratty adults that refuse to be happy. In the hands of lesser actors, Closer could easily have fallen apart at the seams.

Credit must also be given to Mike Nichols for allowing these actors to truly become these characters with all their unfavorable qualities intact, and for his undying faith in the power of Patrick Marber's writing. Closer is not flashy in any way that you'd expect a film to be. It actually more closely resembles a stage play on film, rather than your typical dramatic feature. Nichols had to know that he was walking a fine line between play and film, and his keen directorial vision is what allows Closer to flourish as a film. Just as is the case with the actors, without someone like Nichols in the driver's seat, things could easily have gone awry. Instead, it seems as though Closer is a case of all the right people coming together for the right project and creating a film that easily stands as one of my favorite films of 2004.

The DVD

Video:
Closer is presented in an anamorphic 1.85:1 format that excels in almost every way possible. Detail is rich, deep, and always sharp. Everything from extreme close ups to long, wide shots maintain a level of detail that is as spot-on as I've seen in any film in a long time. Blacks are about as deep as they can possibly get, and flesh tones are completely true throughout the film. The wide range of colors - from the stark white interiors of some scenes to the vibrant, neon hues inside the strip club - are showcased beautifully in this transfer. Lighting and shadows are well delineated, and there are no signs of pixelation or even a layer change to be found in the film. The only thing that keeps this transfer from being a perfect visual presentation is the appearance of some very slight edge enhancement at times, and a few barely negligible spots on the print. This is, nonetheless, an absolutely astounding transfer that makes the film look just as beautiful as it did on the big screen.

Sound:
The audio on this disc is presented in both DTS 5.1 and Dolby Digital 5.1 formats, which both do a fine job of handling the demands of the film's soundtrack. Comparing the two choices, there really isn't much difference. Both tracks are excellent, but the track of choice for audiophiles will certainly be the DTS track, as it packs a bit more forceful low-end punch and an overall more enveloping feel. Both tracks, however, provide great spatial separation and crisp, clear dialogue at all times. The front soundstage carries much of the dialogue-driven film, but the surround channels definitely liven up for a few key scenes. They not only give the soundtrack a bit more strength, but also provide some very nice directional effects at times. The strip club scenes, in particular, showcase this track's surround capabilities as well as the power of its LFE channel. Bass kicks in just at the right times, and ambient sounds are mixed in nicely with the rest of the track. This is an excellent audio presentation for a film that doesn't have an incredibly dynamic soundtrack to begin with.

Extras:
First things first: Everyone that was waiting for the DVD release to see all those excised naughty bits of Natalie Portman, don't hold your breath. They're not included on this disc and it's likely that you'll never see them.

As with most Superbit releases, this disc has very few extra features. Included, however, is the music video for Damien Rice's song "The Blower's Daughter," which plays a pivotal role in the film's soundtrack. The video looks great in a non-anamorphic 1.85:1 widescreen format, and it sounds just fine as well. An interesting video for a very haunting song, it makes a nice addition to this disc.


Also included are nine trailers, including the theatrical trailer for Closer. The other trailers include Guess Who, Bewitched, Hitch, Spanglish, House of Flying Daggers, The Woodsman, Being Julia, and A Love Song for Bobby Long.

Final Thoughts:
How do you lie to someone you love? How do you tell the truth? And how can you stay with someone when you know you can't do either? Films have been asking these questions and examining the intricacies of relationships for a very long time, but few have had the courage to make a truthful and honest look at how people interact with each other when love, sex, and deceit is involved. Things, as we all know, in life do not always go smoothly, and rarely do we find ourselves in a relationship without conflict. It is this very notion which makes Closer such an interesting film.

Sure, you can be disappointed in the lack of extra material on this disc. It would have been great to have some insight from Nichols, Marber, and the cast. I too would have loved to see a few deleted scenes and maybe a featurette as well. But when I think about what really matters, I will easily accept the lack of extra material on this disc in exchange for the spectacular audio-visual presentation of a film that comes as highly recommended as Closer.

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