best films: #39: CLOSER (2004)
It’s far from romantic, it reveals the greatest flaws in the human condition, and it’s also one of the most riveting ensemble pieces I’ve ever seen. Closer may be one of the most heartless flicks you’re likely to see in terms of humanity and love and devotion, but it happens to feature four fantastic performances from some of the best thesps working today. Whether you’re on Team Anna, the photographer with her unusually subtle weakness for excitement – subtlety not something we’re used to seeing from rom-com queen Julia Roberts; Team Dan, the obituary writer with his misguided notions of love and fidelity – played by Jude Law; Team Larry, the doctor with his often scary need to be loved and needed – played with typical ferocity by Clive Owen; or Team Alice, the wandering loner (and sometimes stripper) with her manipulative but sweet-natured ways of enrapturing men – played with surprising depth by Natalie Portman, there is something for everyone in Closer. Though I was hooked the instant the magnificent vocal stylings and song-writing of Damien Rice’s “The Blower’s Daughter” popped up in the trailer, upon seeing the film itself I realized that though stage-to-screen adaptations can often be plagued with awkward transfers, great actors performing great material is a thing to be universally appreciated, be they stage audiences of big-screen audiences.