Saturday, February 19, 2005


Hello Stranger.

Fate allowed us to meet, first as strangers. Then we become friends. We share a relationship, boyfriend/girlfriend, husband/wife. You tell me you love me. I tell you I love you too. But, do we really mean it? How sure are we about it? Will we stray from each other? Will we lie to each other? Or will we be honest about everything, and I mean, everything?

Mike Nichols opens The Graduate with Simon and Garfunkel's Sounds of Silence. Here, Closer opens with Damien Rice's The Blower's Daughter, whose lyrics contain the lines

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

which forms the basis of the movie. "If you believe in love at first sight, you never stop looking." says the movie's tagline, and while watching, I was thinking about the loads of questions the movie subtly throws at the audience, about modern relationships, as seen through the eyes of and experienced by its 4 main characters, whose lives and relations become intertwined.

Fate allows the accidental (pardon the pun) meeting of strangers Jude Law and Natalie Portman, one a struggling writer, the latter a stripper. They become fast friends, and soon, a relationship develops.

But what happens when Law starts to also fall for photographer Julia Roberts? You'll start to ask - does he really love Portman? What's the deal with his feelings for Roberts? Love at first sight? Lust perhaps? Does he even care about Portman's feelings, or is he just selfish, wanting things his way? Is he tired of Portman? And Roberts, at first rejecting Law's moves as she knows he's attached, still finds herself drawn to Law's charms (ok, he's good looking), and giving in. Portman appears in that same scene too, and she can tell that something's not quite right. This was an intriguing 10 minute scene, and the conversations amongst the characters tense.

Law and Clive Owen "meet" in an interesting way, perhaps one of the more light hearted moments in the movie. Fate again intervenes - Owen and Roberts meet, and a relationship which led to marriage forms. Happy marriage? Think again - Roberts has an offscreen affair with Law, and when confronted with it, Owens start to go livid, and wants to know every detail (even where they slept) to justify his betrayal and hurt. Law confronts Portman with the same, and we see the heartwrenching acceptance that Portman emotes. Again, questions are raised - do we sometimes become clingy, that you suffocate a relationship? How do you reveal the truth to the other party, while at the same time trying to cushion the blow? How do you walk away from rejection with your dignity intact? Or could you?

Owen and Portman met during Robert's photography exhibition, and again when Owen has separated from Roberts. They meet in a strip club, where Portman has taken up refuge in, entertaining men. This is a poignant scene, where more questions are raised, though in my opinion, it highlights Owen's lust on Portman.

What happens then, to the adulterous couple Roberts and Law? Are they happy together? Will someone in such a relation be open to the other party meeting up with an ex? If you're still in touch with an ex, will you tell your current squeeze? Why? Why not? Honesty? Will/Can your current squeeze accept the truth? What more if you slept with your ex?

We go full circle at the ending, where you might think that all questions are resolved, all questions answered. There's a twist at the end which leaves you wondering, who's playing who, who's trusting who, who's being honest with who. Is honesty always the best policy? But isn't honesty and trust the basis of any relationship?

I commend all four leads in the movie - Law, Portman, Roberts, Owen - they were excellent in bringing forth the various emotions required, and multi-faceted ones in fact. The characters are multi-dimensional, which makes them all the more plausible in real life. Nothing is cast in stone, everyone changes.

The movie touched me in a personal way, and I'd bet for those who have / are involved in relationships, you'd feel the same way too - you can probably identify yourself in some of the characters, and how they dealt with themes of love, relationships, betrayal, jealousy, honesty, maybe even sex. The movie has a stark social commentary, which will leave you thinking and perhaps reflecting on your personal relationships.

I'd recommend it to everyone. Go watch it, and start pondering.

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