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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.