Closer had some positives and negatives for me, and at the top of the negatives was Clive Owen who I've struggled to enjoy in many films. Still the positives of reviews, other cast members, and an excellent director were outweighing that prospect, so I rented it and began watching.
Something happened with this film that amazed me, I actually liked Owen's performance, and not only that but I found he gave the best in the film.
Gone was that wooden exterior and in it's place was a rich, varied, animated and emotionally strong character. One with monologues to deliver and deliver well. I was stunned by his performance and totally drawn to it.
To be fair all the performances were equally as strong. Julia Roberts was extremely natural and real, especially in her dialogue delivery. Natalie Portman turned a bold and engaging performance, and Jude Law did very well as a confused and naive man struggling with his emotional immaturity.
One of my favourite scenes in the film was the conversation between Roberts and Owen as he returns from his business trip. It's showcases the films strong points. The stage feel, real and punchy dialogue, focussing on the actors performances with their voice inflections, movements and their body language.
There's another equally strong moment that struck me, one that is perhaps the most intense and emotional moment in the film. That's where Portman and Owen are standing in the gallery and Owen places a hand on her cheek in a move that may lead to a kiss. There's such power in the faces of those two actors at that moment, and without any words, you can see the sexual tension between them, and Portman's reaction is wonderful.
This film is definitely not what you expect, it's funny, touching and very moving, as well as providing some of the strongest and real dialogue I've heard in a film for a long time.
The style of filming reinforces that feel of watching a play, with scenes separated by time gaps which only become apparent as the dialogue in the following scene plays out. A technique used often on stage and hard to translate to a movie audience more used to the spoon fed approach. I really enjoyed this though as it takes something that we're not often gifted with by filmmakers, the power of thought.
Music is another strong feature of the film, feature the recurring sounds of two Damien Rice songs which just fit so well with their words and slow heartaching melody. It's clear that the filmmakers poured attention and care over every aspect of this film, and the resulting product is superb as a result.
Closer shows that you need all the elements to come together to make an excellent film, but the strongest place to begin is with a powerful and well written script.
PicturePresented: Widescreen 1.85:1 Anamorphic
The scenes never stray from various set locations, much like a play, and these vary in terms of lighting and warmth, and the picture copes well with each. The lighting and colour levels are well reproduced but are never overpowering, ensuring your focus is retained on the characters.
AudioPresented: Dolby Digital 5.1
There's nothing really to take advantage of 5.1, and this could easily have used a 2.0 track without any difference. Strong audio ranging from whispered words to shouts of frustration, with each playing perfectly well.