2004 Top 10 - #7

December 24, 2004
A thought by James Berardinelli

#7: Closer : Closer is an anti-romance film. At first, it appears to be about longing and love, but it quickly becomes apparent that the forging and breaking of relationships in this movie are conduits for gaining power and causing pain. Sex is more of a tool and a means of one-upsmanship than it is an expression of passion. The subject matter is compelling, disturbing, and potent, and is no further from "reality" than any of the great screen romances. (Although we would prefer to believe in happily-ever-after scenarios instead of the one proposed by Closer). Director Mike Nichols places the focus squarely on the actors, and it's worth noting that Natalie Portman and Clive Owen steal scenes from Oscar-winner Julia Roberts and two-time Oscar-nominee Jude Law. It's not that Roberts and Law aren't effective, but they are, at least in this production, outclassed. Portman and Owen will almost certainly be mentioned in a month when the 2005 nominees roster is read. Admittedly, if you enjoy only sunny, optimistic movies, Closer is not for you. But if you appreciate films that delve into the darker side of humankind's psyche, this picture offers a tough-to-shake snapshot.