Movie Flashback: Closer

by Chelsea McDow

Let me just start this off by saying that I don’t know that I have ever loved a non-franchise, nerdtastic movie as much as I love as the 2004 movie Closer. Closer is like that one book that you could read over and over again because there’s always something new that pops out of the woodwork; you’re always finding something else hidden in the layers of genius. Excuse me while I fan-girl not even a paragraph in. For those of you who have never seen Closer (and I’m sure there are many, because for some reason it’s an incredibly underrated film), it was released in December of 2004, stars Jude Law (yes), Clive Owen, (Yes), Julia Roberts (YES), and Natalie Portman (Yaassssss). It was nominated for two Oscars, won two Golden Globes and was nominated for several others, and has won myriad other awards and recognition for its acting individually, screenplay, and acting ensemble. So let’s get into the meat and potatoes of why this is such a fantabulous film. And fair warning…there will be spoilers. First, I love the fact that there are only four characters. It’s important to note that no character is ever introduced alone, it’s always done in pairs. This helps to fuel the overall theme of the movie. Alice (Natalie Portman) and Dan (Jude Law), then you get introduced to Anna (Julia Roberts) with Dan, next you get Larry (Clive Owen) and Dan.

At this point you’ve been introduced to all the characters, but of course the drama would not be complete if Larry and Anna did not meet in some clandestine way – which they do in a very awkward scene in an aquarium with overarching sexual predator vibes – but we won’t hate too much. What kind of drama would it be if all the characters weren’t intertwined in some kind of fucked up love quadrangle? Well let me tell you! Dan likes Alice, but then Dan meets Anna and is all like oh my god, I love you but Anna’s like no thanks you have a girl, then Dan is fucking about on the internet at night like a pervert and meets Larry while pretending to be Anna! He sends Larry to the Aquarium where Anna happens to be! So Larry is creepily hitting on Anna and they come to find that it’s all some practical joke (ha ha ha) and then they start dating. Anna invites Dan and Alice (who are still dating) to an art show that Alice is featured in and then Alice meets Larry (and of course he thinks she’s bangin’). Dan tries to get Anna to love him – but that fails….or does it?! Next thing you know it’s a year later and Dan is leaving Alice for Anna and Larry fucked a prostitute and Anna is leaving him for Dan. Then Larry finds Alice in a strip club and Anna is asking for a divorce. He makes Anna sleep with him again and Dan finds out and leaves her because she’s just not the same now…they’re not innocent anymore, Pssssht “like you ever were homeboy”.  Dan goes crying to Larry trying to find Alice and Larry tells him that him and Alice boinked (childish much?), so Dan goes and finds Alice then they get back together. But it doesn’t end there! NO! Dan has to ask Alice if she and Larry did the deed and she refuses to answer. She breaks up with him, he hits her….Anna and Larry live happily ever after.

It’s amazing just how much you get to flesh out of each of the characters in the minimal interactions they each have with each other. Since the interactions and relationships switch up so frequently, you really get to see different facets of these characters in a way that a lot of movies don’t allow. But since the general theme of this movie is lies and deceit, you also really have to question what of what you’re watching is real. Spoiler Alert for a 12 year old movie… if you haven’t seen it yet, get your act together: even though they’re all technically lying, cheating, assholes the entire movie, Natalie Portman’s character is actually the biggest lie of all. There are hints throughout the movie that allude to her hiding something, but you really don’t expect it to be her entire identity and life. If you thought that the writers and directors of this film stopped at just fantastic and award-worthy screenplay and characters, you’re wrong.

There’s key pieces of the film that come full circle. The opening scene when Natalie Portman and Jude Law meet, she is wearing a very distinct outfit – a blue coat with white fur trim, a camo green skirt, dark shirt, cross-body bag, and combat-esque boots. An outfit that you’d thing would be gotten rid of at the next possible moment, but it resurfaces during the scene in which Jude Law breaks the news that he’s been cheating on her with Roberts for the last year. She puts this exact outfit back on and disappears into the world. You’ll also notice in the movie that the general color scheme of Jude Law’s boring outfits changes dependent on the woman he is pursuing or seeing. When he meets Portman, he is disheveled and in very dull, grey colors. When he meets Roberts he’s more put together and in brighter colors (blues, whites, etc.) Yet, when he goes to seek out Owen’s character in an attempt to locate Portman he is back to his drab, dreary greys. To me, watching the movie never gets old because I keep finding new things to analyze. The wardrobe is just one of the many aspects of the movie that keeps me intrigued and always looking for more. My love for this movie could also be driven by my general disdain for humanity and the fact that I think that it is just so raw with it’s portrayal of deception and such a wide range of human emotion and traits. The writers didn’t create some unrealistic love drama. While granted there are some aspects that are quite ludicrous for example, the online sex chat room that leads Owen to meet Roberts in the aquarium. But, on the whole, the movie is relatively realistic. It doesn’t over exaggerate the guilt or the anger associated with a life of lies and cheating.

While I could go on for pages about why I love this movie so much , I would like to end by talking about music!  As a rambunctious, rebellious, twit of a teenager, I very much loved Panic! At the Disco and their first album, A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out. Little did I know that at least three songs on the album are inspired by Closer:

1. “Lying is the Most Fun a Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off” – the seventh song on the album is a line taken directly from the movie when Clive Owen finds Natalie Portman’s character in the strip club.

2. “But It’s Better if You Do” – the next song on the album is the continuation of this line. The interaction goes something like this : Clive Owen: Tell me something true. Natalie Portman: Lying’s the most fun a girl can have without taking her clothes off….but it’s better if you do.

3. “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” – the 9th song on the album can be directly related to Julia Roberts’ character’s deceiving Clive Owen. It tackles their wedding/marriage, which isn’t touched on very much in the movie, we just know it happened. I’m sure if you let me I could find a way to make every song on the album related to or inspired by the movie in some way shape or form, but I think I’ve made my point.

Closer is an epic movie with a brilliant cast, legendary script, and an ever evolving plot. I would highly recommend watching it if you haven’t already, and if you have, watch it again and see if you can’t find yourself picking out little tidbits you never noticed before.

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