Known as Straightheads but re-titled as Closure for North American DVD release, Dan Reed's psuedo rape-revenge thriller is a mixed bag with both positive and negative qualities that prevent the film from firing on all cylinders like it should.
Gillian Anderson (she of X-Files fame) plays Alice, a middle aged woman who lives alone. She hires a hunky twenty-three year old technician named Adam (Danny Dyer of Severance) to come out to her home and install her security cameras and the two hit it off. Before you know it she's invited him to a fancy party at her boss' country home. Once there, the pair stops for a quick romp in the woods. When they start their journey home they cross a trio of thugs in an SUV and then later drive their Lexus into a buck. The thugs in the SUV reappear and emerge from the vehicle to beat the living daylights out of Adam, trash the car, and then viciously gang rape poor Alice.
A few weeks later, Alice and Adam, whose one eye has been permanently damaged from the altercation and who now suffers from male performance issues, have to return to the area where they were assaulted to deal with the death of Alice's elderly father. When, by chance, Alice spots one of the thugs riding past her on horseback she wants nothing but revenge. Adam, on the other hand, wants to let it go. Alice begins to find out who these men are and, with some help from her father's rifle, plot her vengeance but Adam is unsure until she slowly but surely starts to bring him around to her point of view.
Likely inspired by Peckinpah's masterful Straw Dogs, this is a dark and unpleasant film that doesn't sugarcoat what the two lead characters go through. Although there are problems with some of the characters and the changes that Alice goes through aren't quite as believable as maybe they could have been, we can certainly understand why she'd want to return in kind what was inflicted upon her by the three hoodlums who raped her. Adam's initial hesitation is interesting in that it further toys with genre expectations - here we have the woman asserting herself over the man and playing the more stereotypically masculine role, and the male character resorting to a more stereotypically feminine role by just wanting to move on and not take an eye for an eye. Of course, as the characters flip flop regarding how they want to execute their plans, things are going to change but the film is interesting in how it plays with male and female roles in what is obviously a dire situation for the couple.
In terms of the performance, Anderson both looks and acts the part quite well and her English accent sounds quiet genuine. She's very believable as Alice and does a fine job with both the more angst ridden moments in the film as well as the quieter and more subdued spots. Danny Dyer isn't quite as strong in his turn but he's definitely solid enough to work. The film also looks reasonably good with some effectively dark cinematography used to create atmosphere and tension. Sadly, the two lead characters just aren't given quite enough brains or heart. While we can certainly sympathize with their plight and what they've been subjected to, they don't seem to put much effort into their plans and instead sort of stumble around hoping to get the job done. As such, we're kind of left wondering how bad they really want what they're after as their actions contradict their intent. Had Dyer and Anderson been given better material to work with and stronger characters to play, the film could have been quite strong, instead what we're left with is a moderately entertaining but ultimately somewhat empty thriller that has a few fine moments but doesn't quite hit as hard as it should.
Closure arrives on Region 1 DVD in a rather flat looking 1.78.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. There's a little more grain than you might expect to see and the odd speck of print damage shows up but there aren't any major issues here that aren't related to the source material used for the transfer. Edge enhancement is mild and there aren't any mpeg compression artifacts. Color reproduction is mediocre and at times things look just a little drab, almost like they should be more colorful than they are. Skin tones fare well, however, and despite some mild aliasing here and there the film doesn't suffer from any painfully obvious encoding issues.
The English language Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound mix doesn't really impress but it gets the job done. Dialogue is clean and clear and the levels are properly balanced. There are no problems with hiss or distortion and the score sounds decent. There isn't a lot of rear channel activity here and the mix isn't particularly dynamic but at least things sounds reasonably good even if they aren't particularly exciting. Optional subtitles are provided in English, French, Chinese, Korean and Spanish and an alternate French language Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo dub is also included.
Sony has supplied a few trailers for other genre films available on DVD as well as some pretty basic menus and a chapter selection option, but that's it. There isn't much here to get excited about, kids.
A rather bleak and somber film, Closure is an interesting if very flawed film. It doesn't quite work as well as it should have but Anderson proves to be quite good in the role even if her character doesn't develop as much as she should. Sony's DVD is very much a middle of the road affair, with average A/V quality and nothing of note in the supplemental department, making this a solid rental for the curious.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.