Theater is dead, or whatever. I mean, it still exists in community productions of Our Town, and it pretends to have cultural relevance in New York and Chicago, but for the most part it is very, very dead. And not without some understandable reasons! For one, it can’t really entertain us the way that movies and television and XBOX 360s and IMAX can, in terms of sheer spectacle. Moreover, in terms of the communication of art, its attempt to reach out and create connections between fellow human beings: a) no one really wants that anymore for the most part (see: Paul Blart Mall Cop), and b) theater is often too stilted, too elitist (perceived or real), and too contrived. There is a distance between the stage and the audience, both literally and figuratively, that simply makes it a poor tool in the era of instantaneous communication and “reality” to get much work done.
But for all of theater’s obstacles and flaws, it is still way more vibrant and relevant than plays adapted into movies. Yiiiiiiiikes. “They look like normal people, but they talk like over-educated automatons!” No thanks!
Closer is based on a play by the same name, written by Patrick Marber. In the movie version, we open on Natalie Portman walking towards Jude Law on a crowded street. Jude Law is staring at her because LOVE CONNECTION. Then Natalie Portman walks into the street and gets hit by a car. Whoopsies! I think that any movie in which one of your main characters reveals themselves to be too stupid to not just get hit by a car (even if the car is a cheap plot contrivance) is going to be a stupid movie. This is categorically true. Probably.
So, Jude Law takes Natalie Portman to the hospital, but she’s basically fine. I guess she just needed to get hit by that car so that Jude Law would talk to her. This movie should have just been called Life! They walk around London for awhile, and now they are in love because CUT TO a few years later, and Jude Law has written a book about their relationship and is getting his photograph taken by Julia Roberts. NOTE: this movie jumps through time without warning. Anyway, Jude Law flirts with Julia Roberts, so now he is in love with Julia Roberts.
Natalie Portman finds out (this is all within the same 10 minutes, btw), and she’s kind of bummed so Julia Roberts takes a picture of her crying. Art! Later, Jude Law goes into a hilarious sex chat room called, like, London Super Sex Chat Internet, and pretends to be a woman (why? I guess because he is a writer? You know how writers are! Always on-line sex chatting as women! Don’t worry about it!) and sex chats Clive Owen, who is a doctor sex chatting in a hospital. Yuck.
“Paging Doctor Clive Owen to the Emergency Room, a man is drowning in barf!”
Anyway, Jude Law pretending to be a woman tells Clive Owen to meet him the next day at the aquarium (which is also the name of Jude Law’s book, because symbolism is precious, and God, and the bible) but when Clive Owen goes to the aquarium he meets Julia Roberts instead. RIGHT. Is this movie a documentary about normal things that happen? CUT TO A BUNCH OF MONTHS LATER. Now Clive Owen and Julia Roberts are dating. Everyone goes to Julia Roberts’s photo gallery opening. CUT TO A YEAR LATER (WHOA, SLOW DOWN!). Jude Law has been cheating on Natalie Portman with Julia Roberts, who now is married to Clive Owen. Classic love rectangle. So, Natalie Portman leaves. And Clive Owen leaves. Then Clive Owen sees Natalie Portman in a strip club. She is a stripper now. She looks great!
Cut to: uhh….I don’t know. Basically, Clive Owen makes Julia Roberts fuck him in exchange for signing the divorce papers, and that somehow makes Julia Roberts leave Jude Law to go back to Clive Owen, and in the meantime Clive Owen also fucked Natalie Portman, I guess, but now Jude Law is back with Natlie Portman, and they are going to go on vacation, but he’s like “did you fuck Clive Owen?” and basically not only are they not going on vacation anymore, but Natalie Portman stops loving him immediately, and she leaves London but her name was never Alice anyway, it was secretly Jane, and Clive Owen and Julia Roberts read at night before they go to sleep, and Jude Law is a lonely dumb-dumb. And all the guys in New York are like HELLOOO NATALIE PORTMAN, OR WHATEVER YOUR NAME IS!
Fun Fact: when this thing was a play, it won an award for Best Comedy. LOL?
I suppose it should be said that for as bad as this movie is, and for as much as I did not enjoy it at all, it was directed by Mike Nichols, and Mike Nichols earned a lifetime pass back in 1967 when he directed The Graduate. Lucky for him, because he has needed to use that pass! But he has it. So congratulations, Mike Nichols, as far as you are concerned, we’re all done here.
Now, I don’t know why they turned a comedic play into an intensely serious movie. Interesting choice! Luckily (luckily?), they didn’t get rid of any of that classic insufferable theatrical dialogue. At one point, Clive Owen and Julia Roberts are verbally sparring, and he says “you forget that you’re dealing with a clinical observer of the human carnivore,” and she responds, “you seem more like the cat who got the cream, you can stop licking yourself,” and he says, “that is the cruelest thing you’ve ever said to me.” BURN? I bet that is a killer burn. I’m going to go back to college and figure out what the fuck the two of them are even talking about, and then I am going to laugh and laugh, I’m sure.
But the thing that bothered me the most about this movie was actually the thing that bothers me about almost all movies about love triangles and infidelities, and that is the obnoxious self-absorption and the narcissistic pride in people who have cheated on others or been cheated on by others. There is something about these types of stories that is so satisfied with really getting into what “life” is all “about.” Except that that’s not what life is all about. I mean, it happens, a lot even, but life is about a lot of other things too. It is a justification to the people who cheat, as in “we are all human and therefore your miserable and disrespectful behavior can be chalked up to the silly quirks of our natures,” and it is also a justification to the people who want to wallow in the personal misery of what was done to them. Love triangle dramas are basically stoner comedies. There is something in your life that you think gives you a better understanding of the world, and that grants you access to an exciting club. Except that you don’t know anything more about life, you’re just as hurt and confused as everyone else, and your club is self-destructive, solipsistic, and stupid. You should get a better club!
Whatever. It’s another case of miserable people being miserable in your face for two hours. Which I guess reflects something about the human condition or whatever. It’s just a really boring and annoying reflection. “Well, sometimes life is boring and annoying.” True enough! But it is also short. Enough of this thing.
Next Week: an announcement of the next round of nominees! Get them in while you can!