Sony // 2007 // 80 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Mina Rhodes (Retired) // November 19th, 2007
Let the revenge fit the crime.
Originally titled Straightheads, which is Brit slang for a person who was not involved in a crime, Closure lands stateside direct-to-DVD, with a new title and little fanfare.
Gillian Anderson (The X-Files) plays Alice Comfort, a businesswoman who is having a surveillance system installed in her flat by 23-year old-Adam (Danny Dyer, Severance), a baby-faced cockney bloke who she finds passed out on her patio after finishing the installation. After a quick shower and change of clothes, she invites him to a party in the country being thrown by her wheelchair-bound boss. Not being able to resist, he accepts, dons a tuxedo, and the two mingle amongst the other partygoers before growing bored and slipping off into the woods for some quick sex. On the way back, they pass a truck that is obstructing the road with its size and slow speed. Adam shouts some rude comments as they pass, and the incident is quickly forgotten as the sexual tension between him and Alice surfaces again. Not keeping her eyes on the road, Alice slams into a stag, smashing her windshield and wounding the animal. After dragging it into a dark side road, Adam prepares to smash its head in with a tire wrench, when the truck they passed earlier suddenly reappears. Three men emerge, who then savagely beat Adam, severely damage his eye, and then rape Alice.
Come morning, the two awake and retreat to Alice's flat, where they hole up for a month in seclusion. Alice maintains a composed front, seemingly ready to move on with her life, while Adam, feeling completely emasculated from the attack, tries in vain to achieve an erection and tends to his disfigured face. Alice receives news that her father died during her retreat from the world, and she makes a trip to his home. On her way out, she is shocked to see the man who raped her, casually enjoying a bit of horseback riding with his buddies. After finding out where he lives (conveniently close to her father's house), Alice collects Adam, returns to her father's home, and the two begin to make plans for revenge.
Clocking in at only 80 minutes, including end titles, Closure (or Straightheads; whichever you prefer) is a lean, ugly little film -- which, in this case, is a compliment. Essentially a point A to B narrative (rape to revenge) with few detours along the way, the film briskly gallops to its nasty conclusion, pausing for character study along the way and a few well-executed moments of suspense. Acting wise, Gillian Anderson emerges strongest, quietly showcasing the seething rage and hurt buried under Alice's cool facade. Danny Dyer plays Danny Dyer, same as usual, only with a lot more crying and failed attempts at masturbation -- which doesn't mean his performance is bad; in fact, it's perfectly adequate. Supporting roles are all fine as well, including a few brief appearances by Ralph Brown (best known as '85' from the criminally underrated Alien 3) as one of the attackers, who, humorously, now looks a lot like Brian Glover did in that film.
In terms of its characters, Closure makes an honest attempt at humanizing them -- even the rapist. The film is free of moralizing, focusing on how its characters feel and react to the violent central event. Alice, upon discovering the identity and location of her attacker -- a wretched lout called Heffer -- is suddenly compelled to enact retribution. Taking up the rifle her father left, she has a small fight with Adam, who would rather just move on and put the incident in the past; "They laughed," she angrily whispers as justification. Adam initially goes along with her plans, if only to provide support for her, until late in the film he discovers that the rush from closing in on the men who attacked them reignites his libido, but in a violent way akin to the very men he wishes punishment on. In one scene, after narrowly escaping capture in Heffer's home, he begins to make love to Alice, only to turn violent, as the scene begins to mimic the rape earlier in the film. Disturbed, Alice throws him off, and begins to feel disillusioned with the whole endeavor. After a sit-down encounter with Heffer, she learns his motivation for the rape, what he even thinks is a justification. Just as one begins to believe the film is about to go soft, however, Alice and the audience snap back to the fact that enormous pain and torture was inflicted on her and Adam (who shows up just in time to assist Alice in payback). Several critics have taken issue with Alice's method of revenge, calling it over-the-top and ridiculous -- but really, what else could there be? After doing very inappropriate things with a sniper rifle, Alice cannot go through with her ultimate envisioned punishment, instead feeling revenge was deserved, but after meeting her attacker, not quite to the degree she had planned. The same cannot be said for Adam, who, in the film's final minutes, loses control, horrifying Alice, who abandons him. Any sense of moral philosophizing or commentary in Closure is completely subjective and depends on the viewer; it's a loose film that allows for the examination of its characters' motivations, and not much else, given its brisk runtime. Adeptly directed by first-time feature director Dan Reed from his own script, the film is visually reserved for the most part, with occasional bursts of style, such as rapid jump cuts, and the escalating volume of birdsong on the soundtrack that ends the film.
Sony presents the film in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, anamorphically enhanced, and "mastered in high definition." For the most part, this is about as good as one could hope for the film to look; the picture is strong throughout, with little artifacting, and seeing as this is a new release, specks or print damage are nonexistent. Color and black levels are excellent. There is noticeable grain throughout the duration of the film, but this is most likely due to the film's low budget. The image is occasionally a bit soft, but again, this is most likely due to the source material. Audio is presented in a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, which is adequate. Surround usage is minimal, with the rear speakers almost completely unused. A decent track, to be sure, considering the film isn't an aural extravaganza. Sony, apparently feeling generous in the extras department, dumps a bunch of trailers for films like "Hostel: Part II" and "Pumpkinhead 4: Blood Feud," of which the latter looks to quite possibly be the silliest motion picture ever made. Aside from those, which will surely enrich your appreciation of the main feature, you get nothing.
How much you "enjoy" Closure depends on how much you are willing to forgive the film for its gigantic plot contrivances -- namely, Alice just happening to run across Heffer again, and him just happening to live down the road from her father's house. The film also suffers from the way the key flashback scene toward the end kills a lot of the momentum that has been built up; humanizing the "villain" is an admirable gesture, but it also slows the film down considerably. The bland techno score also does the film no favors, contributing absolutely nothing when it buzzes and boops on the soundtrack. Considering this, the film would probably work better with no musical score at all. Sony also does the film no favors, providing an excellent technical package, but absolutely no extras of worth, which is considerably annoying, seeing as the UK DVD has audio commentary with the director and two leads, as well as deleted scenes and interviews.
An ignored, underrated film no matter what its title, Closure is almost Tsukamoto-esque in its short runtime, depictions of violence, and themes of sexuality awakened by unconventional methods. Plus, it's nice just to see the always-wonderful Gillian Anderson in something (The X-Files sequel can't come soon enough).
The film itself is acquitted, but Sony is found guilty of delivering an unsatisfying bare bones disc.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
Running Time: 80 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Rated R