10 Years: “Closer”

IMG_0366-0.JPGThe movie adaptation of a play is an interesting type of film. It’s different from a book adaptation, but still requires a lot of work, even if the script seems more or less written. It’ll be the difference between a fun and enjoyable film and one that’s just a bit too boring.

The Columbia Pictures film “Closer”, still falls into that feeling of looking like a filmed stage production, but somehow managed to be incredibly captivating.

This film stars Julia Roberts (“The Normal Heart”, “August: Osage County”), Jude Law (upcoming “Black Sea”, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”), Natalie Portman (“Thor: The Dark World”, “Thor”), and Clive Owen (“The Knick”, “Words and Pictures”).

The film was directed by Mike Nichols (“Charlie Wilson’s War”, “The Graduate”) and written by Patrick Marber (“Notes on a Scandal”, “Asylum”). It is based on the play written by Marber.

The film originally opened on Dec. 10, 2004.

The film went on to be nominated for two Academy Awards, five Golden Globe awards; winning two, and three BAFTA awards; winning one.

So, because I have the luck of Chris Pine prior to meeting Lindsay Lohan, (anyone get it? Okay…), I just happened to be suffering from some sleep issue and found myself awake at four in the morning. Ugh. Then, came through my “Breaking News” app of all things, “Mike Nichols, entertainment icon and Oscar-winning director of ‘The Graduate’, has died at 83, ABC announces”. Yeah, that’s what I want to read. Well, after being shocked about this I had to chuckle. I knew I had a film of his recorded on my DVR and waiting to be watched. It was just one of those things that has been waiting in the wings for a few weeks. Now, at long last, I have done so and I was surprised.

I wasn’t surprised by the level and competence of the four actors. If I said I was, I’d be lying. I may not be an uber fan of all of them, but I’ve seen enough to know that they’re good, especially if the material is good.

What surprised me most was how captivated I was. Not necessarily or solely by the story, but by the actors as the characters. Sure the actors in general might be interesting already, but here there’s another layer added. I was instantly captivated to the point where I’m going to have to believe that I was almost hypnotized. I could not look away. I was particularly surprised when Roberts and Law shared there first scene. What I saw had me pulled in completely and I felt that if I looked away, somehow I’d miss something that only those paying attention could see. Some kind of secret scene or moment. It happened numerous times afterwards too.

This could easily speak to the chemistry that the actors had. Or speak to the type of chemistry present in the film overall. It was real and honest and provided something more than just a believable and solid performances.

There’s also the fact that this film was smart. When watching a drama it’s sometimes hard to fully pay attention to the type of dialogue and the manner it’s delivered. Sure you notice some things and others as they move the story along, but here I was so caught up in it.. It was intelligent and I was simply surprised as it’s a rare thing to get in film, unless you’re Aaron Sorkin. Maybe someone else, but Sorkin is all that came to mind. This also allowed for me to enjoy the darker side of the comedy that was cleverly sprinkled throughout. That too caught me off guard, but I could enjoy the film all the more.

I’m going to be honest about the level of praise the performances got. While I did love them all, I can’t fully understand why Owen and Portman received Oscar nominations. I’ll never waiver from the thought that the performances were good, and that there was a lot to love about the characters (all who are totally screwed up), but I just don’t see the work as award worthy; certainly not to that high of recognition. It could just be me.

When watching films that I know are based on plays, I somehow get obsessed with how much they still look like plays. Here, there was a little of that, but not as much as with “August: Osage County”, and that was refreshing. I wasn’t distracted by this and could focus on something else and/or be distracted by something else. Luckily, it was the drama. The human drama, which I thought was pretty powerful and sad to witness, was able to keep me interested and make for a very fun film.

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