How Close is Closer? (Mike Nichols, 2004) September 26, 2007Posted by Richard Bolisay in Hollywood.
The last time I enjoyed a film adaptation of a play was with Elia Kazan’s take on Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire. Marlon Brando went home empty-handed during the Oscars night (I’m not sure if he attended), although I still think it was his greatest performance ever. Vivien Leigh, Karl Malden, and Kim Hunter were impressive as well. Marlon had this “rebellion” against the Oscars, either political or racial, but he was awarded the Best Actor twice: three years later for Kazan’s On the Waterfront (Budd Schulberg wrote the screenplay, yeah he’s the one who wrote What Makes Sammy Run?) and more than two decades after for Coppola’s The Godfather. He became obese, made a stunning portrayal of Col. Wurtz in Apocalypse Now, and died three years ago. I know this is getting far from the review. I apologize.
Analogy exams in elementary school were helpful after all: Elia Kazan is to A Streetcar Named Desire as Mike Nichols is to Closer.
I just realized that it was based on a play after I saw the credits (which I never fail to finish everytime I watch a film to ridicule some names haha). Nichols is successful in turning a talky script into an intelligent and deeply moving film. Its theatricality blends perfectly with the production design (colors, locations, clothing, and sets) and Closer’s minimalism, not only in its story, is its feat. I haven’t read or seen the original play but I’m sure, Nichols raised its status into a classic.
Natalie Portman stands out without overshadowing Jude Law, Julia Roberts, and Clive Owen. A Harvard graduate, she who can speak more than five languages, and a Queen Amidala for quite sometime, she’s an epitome of unparalleled beauty. She defines exquisite as early as her role in Luc Besson’s The Professional. Venus and Aphrodite, watch out.
Closer is a parody of ourselves, a burlesque look on love’s fleeting nature, teasing us by saying “love is a hazard that we cannot contain, even if you go to the other side of the world, the concept of love, what-the-fuck-is-that, will still be there, so get depressed I don’t care” and we are there, watching it, laughing at ourselves, as if it’s the easiest way to cope with pain.
A maverick, a genius, he who courageously adapted Joseph Heller’s Catch-22, a “green awning film” he once said, Mike Nichols delivers an excruciating havoc of solitary emotions, something that wells deeper than Marianas Trench, — a facade worth-seeing — bold, brave, and beautiful. Mockingly, Benjamin Braddock asks Alice Ayres, “You talkin’ to me?” * * * *