Obituary writer Dan (Jude Law) meets stripper Alice (Natalie Portman) by accident - literally - when she's knocked down by a cab in front of him, soon after arriving in London from New York. He takes her to the hospital, and they fall for each other. Dan meets dermatologist Larry (Clive Owen) in a sex chat room on the internet, while Dan is posing as a sexually aggressive female. He plays a practical joke on Larry which ends up with Larry meeting photographer Anna (Julia Roberts) at her favourite spot: the aquarium. Anna's exhibition of photos brings them all together under one roof, where the two men are attracted to the other's woman. As time goes by, the relationships criss-cross as the four characters love, lie, betray and abuse each other.
Review by Louise Keller:
A story about the intimacies of love, Closer is an intelligent and often provocative look at relationships, and the impact of truths and lies. Jude Law, Julia Roberts, Natalie Portman and Clive Owen fill the shoes of the four characters whose lives are irrevocably intertwined, and who experience a myriad of emotions as part of their encounter. They are powerful performances and director Mike Nichols brings Patrick Marber's successful play to the screen with great insight.
There is nothing simple about love - how can anything be simple if you cannot even define it? Closer puts the magnifying glass on that intangible bubble that envelops us when a magic spell is cast between two people. A man and woman meet, are attracted to each other, begin a relationship.... It is what happens next that is the complicated part. Like Nichols' earlier works Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf and Carnal Knowledge, the interplay in the relationships of Closer, is charged; it's an electric current. With its themes of honesty, deception, kindness and cowardice, each scene is coloured by its own emotional hue. We are never let off the emotional hook - there is something happening every single second.
Closer brings back the art of conversation. 'Lying's the most fun a girl can have without taking her clothes off,' says Natalie Portman's stripper Alice to Clive Owen's dermatologist Larry, while Jude Law's obit-writer Dan provokes Alice to 'Try lying - it's the currency of the world.' Julia Roberts' Anna takes a bath to wash off her guilt, but the guilt sticks, and by the time Larry and Dan both use intimacies as weapons, it is clear that love, honesty and forgiveness are not necessarily compatible.
Closer is a startling and fascinating film that is both revealing and challenging. It toys with the enormity of love and commitment and dips into the abyss of despair when power play goes awry and hearts are broken. Set in London, the anonymity of a big city plays its own part; days, weeks, months and years pass, yet the emotions at the core steadily escalate in their intensity. Love is a double-edged sword: it can destroy or inspire. As barriers and shields are stripped away and Dan symbolically puts on his glasses at the end of the film, we can all see more clearly.
Published May 12, 2005
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CLOSER: DVD (M)
CAST: Natalie Portman, Jude Law, Julia Roberts, Clive Owen
PRODUCER: Cary Brokaw, John Calley, Robert Fox, Mike Nichols, Scott Rudin
DIRECTOR: Mike Nichols
SCRIPT: Patrick Marber (from his own play)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Stephen Goldblatt
EDITOR: John Bloom, Antonia Van Dermellan
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Tim Hatley
RUNNING TIME: 98 minutes
SPECIAL FEATURES: Music video; movie trailer
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
DVD RELEASE: May 11, 2005