Published Dec 01, 2004A lot of people are not going to enjoy Closer. It is a dark, cold and generally distressing film about the state of romance in today's increasingly self-involved society. This is not to say that Closer is not a good film, in fact, it is a great film. It's just not one that is going to make you leave the theatre feeling good about yourself.
Directed by the gifted Mike Nichols (whose long-spanning career includes The Graduate, The Birdcage and last year's spectacular HBO miniseries Angels in America), Closer intertwines the relationships between four drastically flawed individuals: Larry (Clive Owen), Alice (Natalie Portman), Dan (Jude Law) and Anna (Julia Roberts). Essentially, the film follows the romantic beginnings and tragic endings of each relationship without showing the typically boring middle.
Working from an adaptation of Patrick Marber's play, Nichols easily makes the transition from stage to cinema. The editing is tight, allowing the audience to intensely feel the deep emotional ride of the characters. And he works hard to get everything he can out of his actors. Jude Law is predictably charming as the struggling writer/helpless romantic. Julia Roberts plays way against type as a woman who seems to have no regard for anything but her own happiness. And Clive Owen and Natalie Portman, the least famous of the foursome, steal nearly every scene they're in with passionate, emotionally-charged performances.
Closer is being advertised as a love story for our era. This is obviously a tactic to get people in the theatre, because Closer is not really about love. Love plays a role in the overall subject of human nature but it is not a love story. Closer is a bold, intense portrayal of the dark side of human relationships. And for a mainstream film starring Hollywood's so-called "sweetheart," credit is certainly due. (Columbia/Sony)