If “The Big Short” had not told its story of sub-prime mortgages and the bursting housing bubble with humor, it might have played out like “The Closer,” a tough-talking tale of obscene profit-making on the backs of those in over their heads in the world of real estate. Director/co-writer Eli Hershko focusses on a low-life entrepreneur named Steven (Robert Berlin), who attracts an Afghan War veteran surfer dude, Sean (Patrick Duke Conboy) to his sales agent corral, a position that Sean learns requires utmost loyalty, 24-hour availability and an only casual adherence to the law.
While “The Big Short’s” wheeler-dealers worked out of glass-and-steel skyscrapers, Steven’s henchmen are down in the trenches. He barks Mametian orders at them (“Always be closing”), staying above the fray, as the FBI begins honing in on Sean and his shady transactions. As always, the Russian mafia is involved, implicated just as the housing market collapses. Hershko views the financial meltdown from the wrong end of a telescope, as the little guys tear each other apart. “The Closer” may generate more heat than light, but it conveys the real estate underworld with gritty authenticity. (B+)
“THE CLOSER,” Cinemark Palace, Saturday 1:30 p.m., and The Palm Beaches Theatre, Tuesday, April 12, 2 p.m.
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