Thank heavens Sony didn't release this for
to territory he owned with Carnal Knowledge (and
earlier in his own stage act), director Mike Nichols made
a small splash last December with Closer, reviewed
by Mario Anima on our site. Adapted from a stage play
by Patrick Marber, the film chronicles the rise and fall
and rise and fall of two couples struggling to understand
that age-old question: what is this thing called, love?
Bitter, disturbing and at times bitterly
disturbingly funny, the film garnered two Academy Award
nominations, but little in the way of actual attention from
the public. Perhaps it felt too much like one of those films
that we were supposed to like on the strength of its pedigree
alone. Perhaps the public had just grown tired of the onslaught
of Jude Law.
Through Sony Pictures Home Entertainment,
there's a chance to correct that misperception. Closer
comes to home video, and though it really isn't the ideal
"date night" entertainment, it does deserve a look.
Certainly, the nominated performances of
Clive Owen and Natalie Portman stand out, in particular
a tremendously un-erotic strip club confrontation between
the two. That lack of eroticism is on purpose, and not the
effect of a prudish director, either. Nichols may present
tantalizing glimpses of Portman, but the scene itself drips
with emotional pain. Juxtaposed with the constant beat of
the club's soundtrack, the desperation and ludicrousness
of Owen's plight has to make us laugh, but in an uneasy
way. When Nichols is on top of his game, as he is here,
this is the way he likes it.
Presented in Sony's "Superbit" format,
the disc has little to offer beyond a lush transfer and
crisp sound. That's the point of Superbit: just the film,
as well-presented as possible.
No one offers commentary, and though that
may be a bit of a disappointment, it makes sense. Owen might
have had an interesting viewpoint, having played Law's character
on stage, but that has been covered in interviews elsewhere.
As for Nichols, he jumped right from this film to directing
the stage show Spamalot, and if that means no time
for commentary, the trade-off is still pretty good.
Sony does offer a music video for Damien
Rice's title sequence song, "The Blower's Daughter." A haunting
melody, it's still hard to go on to the video after getting
knocked around by the film. Still, it's good to see Rice
get some attention.
Without extras, the focus returns to the
film itself, and for character pieces like this, that seems
only appropriate. Just because a DVD can feature
a lot more than a movie doesn't always mean it should. Save
the documentaries and navel-gazing for something with a
cult following or tremendous special effects. For a piece
like Closer, it's nice for a studio to trust that
we might just be able to think for ourselves about it.
Better that we might just want to.
(Patrick Marber's original play)