Thursday, April 07, 2005


I am going to discuss the movie ‘Closer’ in detail, so all those who haven’t yet seen the movie and would like to see it, please avoid reading the following blog post. The movie raised a lot of questions in my mind. I tried searching the net for some answers but that wasn’t very helpful. I have tried to answer some of those questions here on my own.

What I understood of the movie:

The Characters:

Dan (Jude Law)
Beginning: Has a girlfriend called Ruth who is not shown throughout the film. Writes the obituary page in the newspaper and hates his work. Wants to become a writer but doesn’t know what to write about.
Middle: Writes a book called ‘The Aquarium’ which fails. The book is inspired by the life of Alice but according to Alice it is not the complete truth.
End: Becomes editor of the obituary page after the death of the editor. The editor is most probably his own father. In the beginning he says his mom died when he was a kid and his dad is just hanging on to dear life. In the end he says he sat next to the editor in the hospital for many days before he died. So I am guessing the editor was his father.

Anna (Julia Roberts)
Beginning: Married to someone but unhappy. She is a professional photographer who has read the manuscript of Dan’s book.
Middle: Becomes a successful photographer with her most famous work being the picture of Alice – London girl.
End: Is married to Larry and is probably happy. But we don’t know how long this happiness will last.

Larry (Clive Owen)
Beginning: Dermatologist working in a hospital.
Middle: Meets Alice and is the only character to whom she tells her real identity but he doesn’t believe it.
End: Has a private practice and is married to Anna. Has sex outside of marriage and still gets away with it because Anna cannot complain.

Alice (Natalie Portman)
Beginning: Stripper from New York who comes to London and changes her identity.
Middle: Goes back to her original identity and works in a club.
End: Goes back to New York but again changes herself.

The Plot Details:

The real Alice: Her real name is Jane Rachel Jones as shown on her passport. She tells Dan that he can never see her passport because then he’ll know her true identity. When Larry asks for her real name repeatedly in the strip joint she tells him the truth each time. When Dan leaves her the first time and asks her what she will do, she says she will disappear. She takes the name Alice Ayers from the porcelain plaque when she and Dan walk through Postman’s Park in the beginning of the movie. The plaque says the following –

“Alice Ayers. Daughter of a bricklayer's labourer who by intrepid conduct saved 3 children from a burning house in Union Street Borough at the cost of her own young life. April 24 1885."

This is exactly what Alice does in the movie. She is compared again and again to an angel by Dan and Larry. She is responsible for saving the other three characters in some way or the other. At the end they are all in a better state then what they were in the beginning of the movie. In the original play on which this movie is based, Alice dies in the end. In the movie the ending is more open – she might meet another stranger in New York, fall in love with him and be completely devoted to him or she may die. I would like to believe that she lives.

Larry the Caveman: For someone who talks about being a caveman and not being very refined, Larry is really smart and a good observer of human nature. He manipulates Dan twice. Even though both the women prefer Dan in bed, Anna still ends up with him. Larry likes to dominate women and treat them like whores. In Anna he has found a woman who likes to be dominated and because of her inherent inability to be happy she will keep coming back to him. He makes Anna tell him all the details about Dan. Anna’s indiscretion is very puzzling and she is perhaps the quintessential bitch.

Art: Alice’s description of art is an amazing statement and is almost a reflection of the movie itself. Anna’s photographs have captured the sadness of people and yet are beautiful. But this beauty itself will bring joy to others and hence the art is justified. Dan’s book on the other hand was also about Alice but failed to capture the truth (her sadness). This is perhaps why the book failed. The movie is about four sad and emotionally challenged characters and yet it is made beautifully.

Dan and Anna’s search for something better: Alice unconditionally loves Dan. Still Dan falls for Anna simply because he feels Alice is dependant on him and Anna is an independent woman. In reality, Anna likes to be dominated by others. Why else would she go out with a creep like Larry, who chats on sex sites and only has sex on his mind 24/7. Dan and Anna will never be happy because happiness freaks them out and they run away from it. Somehow they remind me of Sisyphus – that guy who used to push a boulder up a hill and then it would fall back and he’ll do it all over again.

Why I am freaked out after watching Closer:

Some bits here are redundant because I wrote this before the previous part.
There are some works of fiction (books/movies) which leave a deep impression on us. This has happened a number of times to me with books but not too often with movies (probably because I see so many of them). The last time I spent many sleepless nights because of a movie was when I saw ‘Requiem for a Dream’. Yesterday I saw ‘Closer’, twice, and I don’t think I’ll be sleeping for the next few days.

They say reality starts following fiction after a while. I believe that, is always the case. Yet, I have never identified myself to such a large extent with any one particular character in a book or a movie (not the way every Tom, Dick and Harry thinks that Howard Roark’s life is their own or Salinger was telling their story). Not until I saw Jude Law’s character - Dan yesterday in Closer.

Dan is an obituary writer. I have been secretly obsessed with obituaries for ages. The guy wants to be a writer at the beginning of the movie and eventually becomes a failed writer by the end. I am an optimist, so that probably wouldn’t happen to me but I am currently writing about a character who is trying to write the perfect obituary for himself. Creepy!

Dan asks Anna (Julia Roberts) to lie to him because he is frustrated with the truth and thinks lies make life so much easier. Dan also is a proficient liar himself with an imagination working on overdrive (he goes on a sex site and pretends to be Anna and chats with Larry (Clive Owen), I haven’t done that but I am very much capable of doing it – it’s just that I hate chatting on the net). Yet, he contradicts himself in the end by asking Alice (Natalie Portman) to tell him the truth and stresses the importance of truth. His selfishness and failure to recognize love is all too familiar. I better go out and party a little or I’ll go crazy.

Listening to:

Closer Soundtrack – The Blower’s Daughter Artist: Damien Rice

Did I say that I loathe you?
Did I say that I want to
Leave it all behind?

I can't take my mind off of you
I can't take my mind off you
I can't take my mind off of you
I can't take my mind off you
I can't take my mind off you
I can't take my mind...
My mind...
'Til I find somebody new


Lucinda said...

this is the best review of CLOSER i've seen.=)

bar kerark said...

Great blog post!!! its worth to read this. I found out some more great stuff to read.
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