Not since Jonathan Demme's "Philadelphia" has Hollywood used opera as
powerfully in a film as in Mike Nichols' "Closer," although the mode of
presentation is totally different. The "opera scene" in "Philadelphia"
was front and center; Nichols uses the music very much in the background,
almost subliminally. But how perfect his selection is!
"Closer" is not a great film, but it is striking and memorable. The
subject is temptation, faithfulness, betrayal (and nonstop kvetching
about it) in love, and the music is from "Cosi fan tutte." "Soave sia
il vento" comes from a great distance, even as the painful parting hasn't
taken place yet - a sort of foreboding. A long scene in the second half
of the film takes place in the lobby of the opera house, with "Cosi"
performed behind closed doors. It's all done exactly right.
PS: I specified Hollywood because otherwise in quantity and appropriateness
of opera as soundtrack, the Oscar goes to Wong Kar-wai's "2046," an
impressive piece of claptrap, with Callas' "Casta diva" repeated virtually
PPS: Nichols also deserves accolades for getting a surprising, superb
performance in "Closer" from poor Natalie Portman, very nearly doomed
forever by George Lucas, the Anti-Writer.
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