I should have known better; Jude would say I asked for it. He’d watched the Broadway version of it a couple of years back and told me it would be a painful experience. I’d read the reviews and really thought I was prepared for it. I mean, how vitriolic could a love-story be? Besides, it’s Julia “I’ve-got-the-megawatt-smile” Roberts. Darn was I wrong…
The last time I flinched so much at a move that didn’t involve hockey masks, a machete and a creepy soundtrack was at 21 Grams, interestingly a similarly non-Christmas movie playing during the holiday season last year. But unlike 21 Grams, the affliction in Closer is less visual than verbal. It’s the emotions that first burgeon slowly underneath and then explode with scathing intensity that carry the weight of the film,
What cuts so deep is that the characters don’t hurt each other physically- except in one scene; it is the emotional and psychological devastation of a word, a glance, a slight gesture that is so brutal.
I guess what I found so unrelenting about Closer is that just as romantic comedies divest love of all the accompanying pettiness and jealousies of real emotion, Closer is all pettiness and jealousy, plus guilt, rage, possession and vengeance thrown in just in case you didn’t get the point. There is nothing redemptive about the love in Closer. The words “Hey stranger” are not an invitation to a nurturing relationship, they’re a lure into a journey so lacerating and debilitating as to leave the audience emotionally exhausted, lest of all the characters themselves.
Next time, I’m going to listen to my husband.