Sunday, February 06, 2005

Jumping Not Falling

Jumping Not Falling

On Monday afternoon I went to talk given by Patrick Marber as part of his residency as the Cameron Mackintosh Professor of Drama here, in which he spoke about the film version of Closer and its relationship to the play. As he battled with an Oxford Professor who was resolutely anti Dan [Pretty Jude Law in the film] he started speaking about how audiences never like Dan, and that though the play started with Dan its structure doomed him somewhat to being disliked. At the time I think I had some misgivings about this. Not because I doubt what Paddy was saying. I don't, I haven't managed to find a single person who's found Dan sympathetic in either film or play version. Indeed the fact that the acting accolades are all heading the way of the two more obviously likeable characters would indicate that I'm going to have a struggle finding someone who feels sympathy for Dan. And yet, and I'm not putting this simply down to Pretty Jude Law though I do admit that having his features gracing the screen did give Dan a certain attraction, I rather like Dan. By God, he's flawed but there's something about him; indeed I think there's one particular bit which seals it for me:

DAN: Tell me you're not in love with me.
Beat.
ANNA: I'm not in love with you.
Pause.
DAN: You just lied. See me next week. Please Anna...I'm begging you...I'm your stranger...jump.

Maybe I'm being swept along just as much as Dan is, that I'm allowing myself to be caught up in the emotions which are pummelling him. And yet, in that one moment, I think there's something entirely beautiful about him. Unequivocally, totally. Something that just sweeps you away and forces you to accept its beauty. If Paddy now realises that an audience never loves Dan it's something he didn't expect when he was writing it - he rather expected an audience to love Dan too much - and I can understand why. His writing is pushing us to love Dan, even if only for this one second, and even with everything that happens, even when Dan behaves like a sh*t, the moment still remains. At that moment, despite everything else, I'd jump. Which is what, ultimately, the play is all about. Yes it's dark and has its apparently emotionally sterile moments, but it has a heart. It's got that slice of humanity that I was talking about in McDonagh's play. It never condemns its characters, it instead shows them taking a chance, valiantly struggling for intimacy, to be close to one another, in a world where there's global communication but no one really talks to one another. And that's where Dan's right and maybe where Alice falls down. Dan is willing to jump whatever the cost. Alice never truly does. And that's why, I guess, I can't but help liking Dan. He jumps. Foolishly, selfishly, annoyingly...all of those things. But he still jumps.

Today I can't say that I've done much jumping myself. I've written 2,500 words worth of essay and eaten a packet of Maryland cookies whilst doing so. I guess some days are more for jumping and others for covering yourself in chocolate chip cookies. Today would be one of the latter ones.

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