A Series On Love Through Film, Featured, Opinion

“Closer” – Love Is Raw

Christian Hu


May 24, 2023

Love Is Raw

Closer — a 2004 American romantic drama film based on Patrick Marber’s novel of the same name. Produced and directed by Mike Nichols and follows the fidelity and infidelity of two couples whose lives are intertwined. The two couples based in London go on a vicious cycle of falling in love, falling out of love then getting back together again. The wounding of these characters is all based on one important aspect in a relationship — the truth. Through the wielding of language as a weapon, the four characters engage in flirtatious yet condescending skits with each other. The characters ping pong back and forth across the spectrum, swapping roles as the villain or victim, the good or the evil. As the story progresses, we see the film’s brilliant dialogue unravel the humanity within each character, their selfishness and kindness alike with their undeniable complexities and simplicities.

It can be argued that the four characters presented to us all ‘fall in love within first sight’. We see Larry and Anna’s relationship form based off the petty actions of Dan and we see Dan ‘fall in love’ with Alice from their brief interaction across the road. From the velocity of Victorian heterosexuality, love at first site constructs male heterosexuality as a performance simultaneously instinctual and morally passionate. Furthermore, gender separation would’ve created the possibility of an encounter in which a man first experiences desire for the opposite sex. Obviously, the gender divide is no longer an issue but the desire to seize the moment and preserve the youth and beauty of it remains. We can see that the film’s association with the literature goal of capturing time and exhortation to seize the day is present. All four characters share this desire and instinctive attraction for each other, they are raw with their emotions and desires during their very first interactions.

One quote within the film that reiterates the idea that love is raw would be when Larry says “Have you ever seen a human heart? It looks like a fist, wrapped in blood!’ If heard without context, the description is brutal, raw and truthful. Throughout history the heart has been romanticised as the organ of love. We inherited the idea from the Greeks that the heart was the first organ our body made and hence the one that most anchored our very existence — it housed the human soul. Yet when we hear this phrase coming out of the doctor’s mouth, it’s an actual raw statement that shows his experience in falling in love and that he is bloodied by all those experiences. It’s a statement about love as an emotion and the heart an organ. It’s up to the owner to cherish and take care of it regardless of the painful times.

There is a sense of rawness in how truthful the characters are with each other. Especially in their ways of being truthful about the ways they have been untruthful to their significant others. In this film, we see that the need for truth is vital to Dan, Larry and Anna, they push each other in order to find ‘the truth”, yet there is a distinction between honesty and the truth. Larry and Annas relationship can be argued to be an example of this. When Larry confessed that he slept with a prostitute to Anne, he is effectively telling the ‘truth’. Yet this truth is more of a burden, larry is effectively ridding himself of the guilt and secret and simply transferring to the next person. Yet by knowing the truth, it has effectively ruined their relationship. In this film, Honesty is not always about telling the truth, its more about doing what is best for the other person — honestly.

Love is raw and not all pretty. As seen from the characters, through their malicious and passionate exchanges of dialogue. Even in moments of friendliness and flirtation, the characters lace their words with subtle putdowns and accusations. In closer, Love is not just about the good feelings it also encompasses desire, jealousy, selfishness, betrayal, and guilt. Language becomes a terrifying weapon that wreaks havoc in sexual politics, destroying intimacy and leaving them better off without it. Sentences become just as lethal as a stab to the heart when uttered in the heat of the moment. These four characters all have difficulty conveying themselves emotionally, especially feelings that involve their significant others. They are completely locked in a cycle of distrust, betrayal and deception, with the need to know ‘the truth’. This truth and raw craving for it becomes the very destruction to their relationship as it takes away the importance of mystery in human intimacy.

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