Okay, so, I’ve been meaning to see this film. I feel like that’s a sentence I could fall back on a lot, especially since we as human beings live mostly moment to moment – tending to whatever needs tending to at any given time, while gradually making little compromises like “I’ll see that film over the weekend.” And, owing to the fact that I’ve been up North for the last several days, time was precious and the weather beautiful, so, I’ve been outside more than inside over the last 72 hours. Upon arriving home this evening, finding no little red Netflix envelopes in my mailbox, I decided to take matters into my own hands and queue up a movie online. Closure, staring one of my favorite television actresses Gillian Anderson, fit the bill – a “horror/thriller” film from the UK with the tagline: “Let the revenge fit the crime.” Oooo…chills!
I’ll say this now before any of you get too embroiled in the film – there is nudity, there is violence, this film is completely inappropriate for any child under the age of 17 (probably, 18 if you want to be technical about it).
Closure opens with Adam (played by relatively unknown British actor Danny Dyer) mumbling on his cell phone about some girl he’s been on a date with whilst he screws around with a webcam. He’s in his tool boxes, digging around for something, mumbling about getting stoned, getting the munchies and going to the garage. I despise this kind of intro – giving the audience a bunch of useless information at the beginning of the film is a great way to turn them off. It isn’t until Alice (our woman Anderson) walks by and uses her fake, silken posh accent that I remember I wanted to watch this film. Alice walks by Adam and tells him he’s late. For the next several minutes, we have no idea what the connection is between these two characters. Instead, we see Alice at work where she receives an invitation to some event later in the evening.
Writer/director Dan Reed has his work cut out for him for at 3 minutes runtime, the Celluloid Junkie is thinking about her standing 15 minute rule. The premise to the 15 minute rule is in the name — if, after 15 minutes, a film has not solidly established either a.) a plot line or b.) and empathetic character the Celluloid Junkie is free to move onto the next film. I’ve only acted on the 15 minute rule a few times, but, I’m not opposed to it this evening. So, Reed, you have 12 minutes to reel me in…so to speak.
When Alice returns home after work, she finds Adam (stoned, sitting on her patio with a carton of orange juice, napping), it becomes clear why he’s there. Adam has been installing home surveillance equipment for Alice’s flat. In a hurry, Alice tells Adam to pour himself a “proper drink” while she showers. This is a classic Anderson moment, when she saunters back to her bedroom to undress. In the shower, she smiles to herself knowing full well Adam is taking in the sights. She finishes the shower and asks Adam if he would like to go to her business party. She hands him a suit from her closet and the two set off into the countryside.
With Adam navigating, he steers her into a secluded turn out and leans in close. “I need to piss,” she smiles, and exits her lavish Lexus sedan. The sun is setting. Anderson looks stunning, I have to say, even when she’s pretending to relieve herself. Eventually, with Adam at the helm, the two arrive at a large estate (this is vaguely similar in feel to Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut, here). Adam is a bit wet behind the ears, but it isn’t until Alice’s boss Misha — a wheelchair bound jerk — laughs when Adam says he’s “twentyfwee” that you realize Adam is a bit young for our Alice. I’ve previously mentioned that I dislike parties, so, again, I’m a bit put off by this entire sequence. Adam, who knows no one save Alice, is sent to get some drinks and wanders around wide-eyed amongst the thrall.
Cut to Alice having a very quiet discussion with Misha. They sit closely. Alice takes a drag from a cigarette and Misha whispers “It’s all for you, if you want it.” She stands and kisses him gently on the forehead. I suppose she must realize it’s time to find the child Adam. It’s quieter still. There’s no one around. Adam stands alone, smoking as well. Of course the two of them are going to express their interest in one another at this point – that’s code for: have sex. Which they do, and Anderson, who spent nearly ten years playing straight-laced Catholic Dana Scully on The X-Files, is very expressive in this scene. The camera work is very close, and the sound, mostly the breathing of the two characters is incredibly sensual.
As the two head home, they pass an old Land Rover going slowly, swerving a bit. Adam eggs on Alice, telling her she’s “got the machinery” to pass him up. The two laugh, and as they foolishly start to kiss something large smashes into their windshield. In the moments following the collision, Anderson is brilliant – giving us a sense of the sort of terror one might feel having just struck something so hard when one wasn’t paying attention. After all, it could have been a person, a child. But, it isn’t – it’s an elk (just a guess, you never really clearly see the animal), which they tie to the bumper and pull off the road.
And success, we’ve reached the 15 minute point of the film and I am compelled to know what happens next.
Knowing only the basic premise of the film, I imagine what happens next is of the utmost importance. After they’ve pulled the large animal to the side of the road, Alice retrieves a tire iron from the trunk and approaches the beast. Intent on putting it out of her misery, Adam stops her, takes the tire iron from her and tells her to sit in the car. We see that already the two have a sort of victim/savior relationship. But, before he can do the deed, the Land Rover they’d previously passed on the road pulls behind them.
If you’re anything like me, you know the words that just ran through my head. There’s no sense it putting them down here because I’ll only end up censoring myself.
Three men emerge from the Land Rover and proceed to beat Adam into a bloody pulp while Alice looks on from inside her Lexus. Terrified, helpless, Alice pleads with the men to stop. Maybe she should have thrown her car into drive and run over them the same way she ran over that elk, but instead she drives her car into a ditch and gets stuck.
Thankfully, you don’t have to endure too many of the details of what happens next. Basically, the three men defile Alice on the hood of her car – we watch the scene unfold through the broken windshield of the car. It is horrific and my heart pounds the entire time. I could launch into a diatribe here about the proliferation of violence upon women in film, but I see no point – if you subscribe to film theory, or that film exists to reflect our world and our lives in a truer form than any other art, then you will realize that film cannot only reflect the good. It is its responsibility to also reflect the bad, if for no other reason than to serve as a warning, a reminder.
As an aside, I will say that insomuch as it is brave for an actress to take on such a role, it is also dangerous. No one really wants to see Dana Scully being brutalized in this manner. Especially not me.
In the morning, the elk that Alice and Adam had almost killed the night before arises from the road and walks away. Adam, who laid only feet away from it throughout the night, wakes as well, bloodied, bruised, but breathing himself. He wanders a few feet and then it hits him – Alice. In the ditch, he finds her car (look at the windshield carefully here, it looks as though the glass is still intact, oops!), still running, lights on. Alice sits alone on a small tree stump, her back to the car. There is a lovely thick fog, birds chirping. Adam approaches her, coughing, crying, clearly in pain. When he asks her what the men have done to her, the camera pans around to face her. Another perfect moment as Anderson’s face is blanketed in shock, her eyes not quite dead but no longer gleaming. She looks into the distance, seeing nothing.
“Don’t tell anyone,” she says, and attempts to stand, her legs shaking so badly it seems as if a slight breeze might knock her about. Adam begins to sob and takes her into his arms. His left eye is swollen and injured so badly its clear he will never be able to use it again. He runs screaming into the woods. Alice bends down near her car to retrieve her locket and a long, thin stream of blood begins to run down her leg. Her body begins to convulse and she raises her gaze until it meets yours.
It’s dead terrifying.
Back in town, at Alice’s flat, the physical wounds all but healed, the two look as though they have been cocooned together – perhaps out of fear, or guilt. They never touch. Their physical space is maintained, but they are never alone. Adam’s left eye has gone blind, as we suspected, and his face is scarred. It’s been a month and Alice has to return to work. Once so confident, Alice now walks the halls of her office building tentatively, uneasily rigid. Its clear neither one of them is capable of returning to their old lives.
Here, we learn that Alice’s father – to whom the audience has no tie – has passed away while she has been on leave. It serves two purposes, this sort of anonymous death. One – it severs all ties Alice has with living relatives and thus leaves her free to be herself, and to do those things upon which a family may look unkindly. Two – it brings Alice back into the countryside where the attack took place. While she’s driving home, she runs headlong into a pack of horseback riders – one of whom she thinks she recognizes from the night of the attack. She trembles for a moment as he passes by, hitting the roof of her car, calling her a tart. Then, suddenly, she becomes calm, steady. She phones Adam.
Apparently, she’s been gone for two days with nary a word home to Adam (who lies face down on the sofa, passed out, adult films blaring in the background). He drives out to her father’s place immediately. It’s clear when the two embrace that Adam has become emotionally needy while Alice has become emotionally withdrawn. As they hold one another, Adam bends his head to her shoulder, caressing her back gently. Alice simply endures it, staring blankly forward, her arms to her sides. It is in her father’s house that the two devise a plan to take their revenge on the trio responsible for that fateful night.
The final word: this film is totally f**ked up. I do not recommend it if you are faint of heart or if you’ve had any sort of crush on Gillian Anderson for any length of time. Closure is a film about a very twisted, disgusting, and disturbing world and the men that reside in it, equally as despicable and vile. Anderson proves once again why she is one of the greatest actresses Hollywood never discovered. The subtlety and passion she imparts to this role is singular and powerful. Danny Dyer is noteworthy as Adam. His perpetually-on-the-verge-of-an-emotional-breakdown performance was at once vulnerable and terrifying. Catch Closure but do so at your own risk.
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