I’m not going to spend a lot of time on “Closer” (Columbia, 2004), but I do want to offer it as an example of the sort of picture that “Red Dust” so refreshingly is not. Nobody has any fun getting laid in “Closer,” which is a very steamed up tale of four exceedingly attractive people who never stop saying disagreeable things to each other. Like so many other pictures going all the way back to “Sunrise” and beyond that too, “Closer” takes Lust as its subject and presents Desire as if it were — in every particular — cheerless, sour, intense, deadly serious
Patrick Marber (who based the screenplay on his own West End/Broadway play) must surely have had Shakespeare’s Sonnet 129 lowering upon his brain while he wrote this thing. Ever since Shakespeare wrote Sonnet 129, writers have been taking their cue from his vividly pessimistic tirade against Lord Boffulation and all his pomps.
Th’ expense of spirit in a waste of shame
Is lust in action; and till action, lust
Is perjured, murd’rous, bloody, full of blame,
Savage, extreme, rude, cruel, not to trust,
Enjoyed no sooner but despisèd straight,
Past reason hunted; and, no sooner had
Past reason hated as a swallowed bait
On purpose laid to make the taker mad;
Mad in pursuit and in possession so,
Had, having, and in quest to have, extreme;
A bliss in proof and proved, a very woe;
Before, a joy proposed; behind, a dream.
In “Closer,” sex goes directly to being “despisèd straight” without first having been enjoyed sooner. At its happiest (that is, in the first flush of “romance”), it’s all, like, snide and snotty and fuck you man! Later on it’s, “I would have loved you
[Y]our virginity, your old virginity, is like one of our French withered pears, it looks ill, it eats drily; marry, ’tis a withered pear; it was formerly better; marry, yet ’tis a withered pear: will you anything with it?
In “Closer,” the French withered pear is not old virginity, but sex itself. Away with it. I’ll none.
The individual scenes offer little evidence of what is involved in the sexual act; we get a lot of acid chatter about it, but nothing too specific. All we learn is that sex seems to involve a whole lot of teary-eyed snarling and browbeating
The actors are beautiful and they go through their paces as if their lives depended on it. They don’t cheat, but the script does.