Closer

"OK"

Closer Review


A sexually charged drama of cross-pollinating infidelity from director Mike Nichols -- whose best work has always tapped into such raw and sensitive areas of the human psyche -- "Closer" derives all its fascination from the nitty-gritty, down-and-dirty character nuances brought to life with discomforting veracity by its foursome of fine actors.

Julia Roberts (as Anna, an aloof but respected photographer), Clive Owen (as Larry, a smarmy doctor), Jude Law (as Dan, an obituary writer and failed novelist) and Natalie Portman (as Alice, a punkette-lite stripper who blows with the wind) are all strangers as the film opens in modern-day London. But as the story leaps forward to pivotal episodes over several years, a series of dates, marriages, illicit liaisons, break-ups and jealous traps shape their boomeranging romantic lives.

The cunning direction of Nichols ("The Graduate," "Carnal Knowledge," "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf") viscerally plugs into the emotional voltage of these edgy, passionate, dishonest, desperate, sometimes sweet but often brutally frank relationships in almost every scene. But the film begins deceptively like a romantic comedy as Dan charms the alluringly unfettered Alice on her first day in London, coming to her aid when she's hit by a taxi. "Please remember our traffic tends to come from the right," he glints with all this English panache after realizing her injuries aren't life-threatening.

Almost immediately, however, "Closer" pounces forward in time to the day Anna is taking Dan's picture for the jacket of his first novel -- inspired by Alice's troubled but tenacious life. When he makes a pass at the photographer while Alice waits outside, the move reveals, with an intricacy only a truly versatile actor could achieve, where his relationship with his muse now stands.

But this scene is one of several false moments that feel like hurdles for the actors, albeit hurdles they continually overcome. The acrimonious flirtation between Law and Roberts lacks credibility, yet it begets a gut-wrenching scene between the two women as Portman's savvy but vulnerable character catches on instantly to the infidelity afoot.

Another hard-to-swallow incident finds Dan posing as a woman on an internet sex-chat site, luring Larry (surfing from his hospital office in an unlikely scene accompanied by incongruous swells of classical music) to a false date, where he then meets Anna for the first time. This chance encounter leads to something between them that may not be love, but it sets in motion all the heart-wrecking to follow.

A bigger problem with the story is that these men are both such base creatures -- single-minded, quick to become smitten, enraged, forlorn and vengeful (especially toward each other) -- that by comparison the film seems to have neglected the female characters. Writer Patrick Marber (adapting his own stage play) fails to tap into whatever has made these women incapable of recognizing relationship red flags when they see them.

But as the title implies, the closer "Closer" gets to all four people, the more absorbing their internal (and intermingling) turmoil becomes -- and that's where the film's casting pays off. Roberts, Portman, Law and Owen ("King Arthur," "The Bourne Identity") are not afraid of the darkness and damage in their characters' hearts. They're don't shy away from appearing unsympathetic, and Nichols nurtures the intimacy and immediacy this fearlessness brings about.

The result is a film saved from its implausible emotional overtures by its unvarnished emotional minutiae.

The picture's best asset, however, is Portman, who is beginning to come into her own as a major talent. In her hands, young Alice's flirting, knowing eyes are windows to the most complex, self-aware and psychologically plucky soul of the bunch.

There has been much chin-wagging about the fact that, at the actress's urging, Nichols removed a manipulative striptease she'd shot for a scene in which Larry, shattered by a discovery of infidelity, visits Alice in a nudie bar. That this scene feels all the more invasive for what it doesn't show speaks volumes to her ability to be naked in more fascinating ways just through her acting.



Closer

Facts and Figures

Run time: 104 mins

In Theaters: Friday 10th December 2004

Box Office USA: $34.0M

Box Office Worldwide: $115.5M

Budget: $27M

Distributed by: Sony Pictures

Production compaines: Columbia Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 68%
Fresh: 138 Rotten: 65

IMDB: 7.3 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Alice, as Dan, as Anna, as Larry, Colin Stinton as Customs Officer, Nick Hobbs as Taxi Driver

Contactmusic


Links


Advertisement

New Movies

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

After the thunderous reception for J.J. Abrams' Episode VII: The Force Awakens two years ago,...

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Like the 2015 original, this comedy plays merrily with cliches to tell a silly story...

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

There's a somewhat contrived jauntiness to this blending of fact and fiction that may leave...

Ferdinand Movie Review

Ferdinand Movie Review

This animated comedy adventure is based on the beloved children's book, which was published in...

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Director Dave McCary makes a superb feature debut with this offbeat black comedy, which explores...

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

A dramatisation of the real-life clash between tennis icons Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs,...

Shot Caller Movie Review

Shot Caller Movie Review

There isn't much subtlety to this prison thriller, but it's edgy enough to hold the...

Advertisement
The Disaster Artist Movie Review

The Disaster Artist Movie Review

A hilariously outrageous story based on real events, this film recounts the making of the...

Stronger Movie Review

Stronger Movie Review

Based on a true story about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, this looks like one...

Only the Brave Movie Review

Only the Brave Movie Review

Based on a genuinely moving true story, this film undercuts the realism by pushing its...

Wonder Movie Review

Wonder Movie Review

This film may be based on RJ Palacio's fictional bestseller, but it approaches its story...

Happy End  Movie Review

Happy End Movie Review

Austrian auteur Michael Haneke isn't known for his light touch, but rather for hard-hitting, award-winning...

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Seemingly from out of nowhere, this film generates perhaps the biggest smile of any movie...

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

A Victorian thriller with rather heavy echoes of Jack the Ripper, this film struggles to...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.