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Like “Life as We Know It”? Try having taste

With her latest exercise in light movie fluff, Katherine Heigl adds to a string of garbage movies that may eventually have her vying for a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Razzies. I don’t understand the allure of such projects to her, which don’t allow her any opportunity to expand her acting chops, or more importantly, provide the audience with a movie that hasn’t been seen a million times before. Mixing infant scatological humor with a tired love story formula where two gorgeous people who don’t get along eventually realize they’re made for each other just equals cinematic vomit. If you genuinely enjoyed it, then go ahead and watch Three Men and a Baby, (which I actually liked) or The Pacifier, or whatever “ew-baby-shit-is-gross!” movie you enjoy. Here endeth the article. 

For others, we’re going to run away from Life as We Know It and the cookie-cutter films of the like, axe the baby and its various discharges (feels weird typing that), and focus on a more interesting and original take on love and strangers that fate has brought together. That would be Mike Nichols’ Closer of 2004. 

The film, the anti-cookie-cutter cinematic love story which Time referred to as “a love story for adults,” tells of four strangers, two men and two women, whose lives intertwine as each man loves and betrays each woman. They are Larry (Clive Owen), Anna (Julia Roberts), Alice (Natalie Portman), and Dan (Jude Law). 

 

Screenwriter Patrick Marber, who adapts his own play, chooses very interesting sections of the relationships to focus on. There are times when we jump a year ahead between scenes, and he trusts us to use the information we are given to reach that conclusion. For instance, in the beginning, as Dan and Alice go on a first date of sorts, he shares that he’s a failed writer, lacking any inspiration or talent. In the next scene he’s getting a photo taken, by Anna, for the jacket of his new book. The story is incredibly unique in how it gives us a complete story that spans several years by way of scenes that only document five or so minutes at an important time in the characters’ lives. Whole events that most people would deem worthy of putting on screen are excised here. We never see Larry and Anna’s wedding, or the entire year of Dan and Alice’s relationship. Yet the actors are skilled enough in every scene to make us see the progression of that relationship and believe it. 

Marber’s dialogue exhibits the most brutal honesty; a candor these people use that most of wish wish we could sometimes. Here’s a piece of dialogue between Larry and Alice after their former partners have left them, perhaps the most quoted one from the movie:

Larry: “Alice, tell me something true.”

Alice: “Lying is the most fun a girl can have without taking her clothes off, but it’s more fun if she does.” 

 

A scene between Larry and Anna that goes into graphic details about her sexual infidelity would better represent that intense dialogue, but we at Player Affinity, for the sake of the children, will let you view that scene later and see for yourself.

Closer is incredibly cynical about relationships, especially in comparison to the lighter fare that Life as We Know It is a part of, but oddly I don’t feel depressed after watching it. The characters are interesting and flawed, and when love works for these people, and both parties are happy, they’re fine, even romantic, examples of that strongest of emotions. When they’re burned, however, they find it easy to embrace their more basic instincts. Just like most of us, I suspect.

 

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