Charlie Bertsch (cbertsch) wrote,
Charlie Bertsch
cbertsch

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Stoppered

I just got back from Mike Nichols's Closer. I had already been wanting to see it, despite the tepid reviews I'd seen, on the basis of Juliana's description. When kdotdammit came home this evening and announced that she was amending her Top-10 list to include it, I headed straight to the abysmal Foothills Mall multiplex.

I'm glad I did. I'm not sure I liked it as much as she did -- I've reserved reading her newly rechristened blog until I write this entry -- but it was a great deal sharper than most critics gave it credit for being. The acting was strong. The direction was subtly smart. It holds up well in the play-turned-into-film category.

The thing is, when I watch that kind of film these days I find myself unable to restrain the part of me that wants to identify with characters like an eight-year old. Kim knows that I can't watch certain male crisis pictures without ending up tied in knots. In the case of Closer, though, I felt the urge to identify but wasn't able to attach that urge to any of the four characters. Sometimes that's the effect that a writer wants, a failure to identify. With Closer, though, I had the impression that some people would find it very easy to identify. I felt a little shut out. This did, however, make it easier for me to think about the film.

What with the name-changing in my life -- I also just wrote my sister's married name for the first time -- my attention was focused first and foremost on Closer's treatment of identity. When the characters seem most sincere, they are often lying. And they tell the truth, conversely, when they seem to be making their statements up out of whole cloth. That's a pretty common theme in storytelling, I suppose. But Closer does a good job with it.

Because this is a filmed play, every scene feels like a significant scene. I liked the way the script leaped over the periods -- months, a year -- between overt crises in the characters' relationships. My own rather limited experience suggests to me that in the so-called real world couples also go along without doing much deep communicating until some catalyst forces them to take things to another level. Part of being in a relationship, at least for the people I know well, consists of forgetting many things about one's partner until it is necessary to confront them. Along those lines, I was particularly taken with the scene at the end when Jude Law's Daniel and Natalie Portman's Alice/Jane rehearse the details of their meeting as a way of trying to reinforce the bond between them.

Anyway, I'm realizing Closer will have to settle deeper in my psyche before I have something insightful to say about it. Correction. I have plenty to say, but it consists largely of thoughts that pertain more to my situation than they do to the film. I'm tripping, but the journey is taking me outside of my internet comfort zone. I'm going to plug the stopper back in.
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