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Beginnings, Ends, Middles
"Closer concerns itself with the fact that, in love, we remember beginnings and endings and tend to edit out the middles. It asks interesting questions like ‘how do we really remember things and how does life really look to us?'” — Director Mike Nichols 

Patrick Marber's comedy/drama "Closer” debuted in London in 1997 to rave reviews and won the Laurence Olivier/BBC Award for Best New Play and the London Critics Circle Award. The subsequent Broadway production was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Play and won the New York Critics Award for Best Foreign Play. It has since gone on to be produced in more than 100 cities around the world and translated into 30 different languages. 

The playwright describes Closer as "a love story. It's about other things of course —sexual jealousy, the male gaze, the lies we tell ourselves and those we are most intimate with, the ways in which people find themselves through using others. But in the end, it's a nice simple love story. And as with most love stories, things go wrong…”

The title, he contends, is open to interpretation. "I wanted something ambiguous, that might give you a sense of mood without closing down the possibilities of what the story might mean.” 

Seven years ago, when producer John Calley (who was then chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment) first read Marber's play he was "crazy about it,” he says. "It's a remarkable document about our time, witty, immensely romantic and very dangerous — and I think, very important.” 

What intrigued Calley and Sony Pictures chairman Amy Pascal was Marber's witty and bitingly accurate dissection of romance in the modern era. "Marber underscores the complexity of contemporary relationships in which the beginnings are so highly charged and exciting that the process of falling in love can become addictive. People can become falling-in-love junkies and find that habit difficult to kick. Throughout the play, Marber makes acute comments that are both witty and fun. The humor is always informed and sometimes heartbreaking.” 

When Calley and Pascal met with Marber and expressed interest in turning his play into a movie, however, he turned them down, says Calley. "He was appropriately dismissive and wouldn't sell it to us because he wanted a more fulfilled sense of who would be making the movie.”

Fortunately, years later, after its successful Broadway run, director Mike Nichols became interested in the project. Like his most recent adaptations of the widely acclaimed plays "Wit” and "Angels in America,” Closer dealt with intimate issues with humor and complexity. Nichols thought it would lend itself to film adaptation very well because its structure was innately cinematic and because it contained four leading roles which were interesting and complex, and whose personalities change and evolve through the course of the story. 

Nichols seemed the ideal director for the project, since it bore similarities to some of his previous films including the acclaimed comedy/dramas The Graduate, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf and Carnal Knowledge, in which he demonstrated an intuitiveness about relationships between men and women. 

Beyond the specificity of Marber's approach, Nichols says that the dynamic between men and women that the playwright addresses "is the center of our lives on earth,” he says. "It's what most jokes are about, what most novels are about, what most music touches on. It is — for want of a better word — life. And it's endlessly interesting.”

The project came full circle when Nichols approached Calley to finance the project. The two men have been the best of friends for the past 40 years. They met when Nichols was part of the acclaimed comedy team of Nichols and (Elaine) May and Calley briefly dated May. Calley produced one of Nichols' early films

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