Though its title suggests romantic comedy, “The Closer She Gets” is anything but. Documenting in harrowing detail his mother’s brave, losing battle against brain cancer, filmmaker Craig Ouellette eschews the crude sentimentality of most fictional portraits of death and disease to hone in, with an anthropologist’s scrutiny, on the ways in which the human body can betray itself. In doing so, he may have made a pic few viewers will have the stamina to endure, but which earns a place of honor alongside such other uncompromising records of mortality as Donna Deitch’s “Angel on My Shoulder” and Allan King’s “Dying at Grace.”
Seen from one perspective, Jane Ouellette’s death happened quickly: Initially diagnosed in the fall of 2000, she was dead one year later. But as we bear witness to Jane’s excruciating physical and psychological deterioration, pic suggests the way that illness can transform our perception of time, so that an eternity might transpire in a moment, while a moment might stretch out over an eternity. Spare soundtrack includes an ethereal rendition of Johnny Nash’s “I Can See Clearly Now,” performed by a hospital nurse.