Wednesday, February 1, 2012

100 Movies - No. 23: Closer

23. Closer (2004)
Drama, Romance, 104 minutes
Directed by Mike Nichols
Starring Clive Owen, Natalie Portman, Jude Law and Julia Roberts

I mentioned in my introduction that it's not always easy to recommend movies to other people, even if you know them well. Closer was one selection that wasn't appreciated because "it's full of boring dialogue."

I'm afraid I'll have to disagree with my friend on that point. Closer is a film full of intelligent, realistic, captivating dialogue. Yep, all they do is talk, but those conversations are convincing and mix potent drama with genuinely funny sequences. It's clear that the film was adapted from a play, but the content is so good that it translates easily from one medium to another.

Closer succeeds on the strength of the script, but it wouldn't be as effective without strong performances from the four main characters. Fans of any of the four would probably enjoy this film. It shows how people think and interact. So many movies feel contrived, but many of these conversations could happen. It feels genuine to me.

It's refreshing to see a film populated by intelligent characters. While box office success often relies on reaching the lowest common denominator, Closer gives its audience some credit. It's hard to pick out a favorite performance, but I think Clive Owen just edges it. I love how he speaks his lines with such conviction.

Closer should appeal to fans of intelligent dialogue and good acting. You'll come away feeling like you know these people. Each is flawed, but from their point of view they think they are honest and good. It's a fascinating study of human nature.

If you like Closer:

The first movie I would like to suggest is The Graduate, also directed by Nichols. It's interesting to see how styles and attitudes changed between what was acceptable in 1967 and what works in 2004. Both have romantic elements, but they are so much more than simple romances.

It's hard to watch Closer without thinking about Woody Allen. Whether it's pure slapstick or a serious drama, Allen's movies rely on good dialogue and a strong cast. Several spring to mind, but I would say Vicky Cristina Barcelona is the closest in feel.

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