Directed by: Mike Nichols
Written by:Patrick Marber
Starring: Julia Roberts, Jude Law, Natalie Portman, Clive Owen
Released: January 26, 2005
Grade: B+

It’s not hard to see that Closer is based on a play.  There’s a small cast – just four main characters in all.  There are many long scenes in which two people converse with precise dialogue.  There are many pauses designed for the audience to think and reflect.

Patrick Marber adapted his own play and renowned director Mike Nichols (The Graduate, Catch-22, Primary Colours) has brought it to the big screen.  The lure of working with Nichols would have been a key attraction for the all star cast.  It’s already paid off for Natalie Portman and Clive Owen who have each won a Golden Globe and earned an Academy Award nomination for their performances.  Deserved too as they have much more interesting roles than Jude Law and Julia Roberts.

Dan’s (Law) and Alice (Portman) have been in a relationship for close to three years.  He’s a struggling writer and she’s a stripper turned waitress.  At a photo-shoot for his novel, Dan become fixated with the photographer, Anna (Roberts).  In a funny but lengthy scene, Dan pretends to be Anna when talking to a dermatologist named Larry (Owen) in an internet chatroom.  Strangely, this leads to the real Anna meeting Larry and within a year, they are married.

This isn’t the part where we leave the theatre thinking they all lived happily ever after.  By the end of it all, you’re likely to hate every one of these characters.  They cheat on each other, lie to each other and even when they’re honest, they try to hurt each other as much as possible.

I have tired of fluffy romantic comedies and enjoyed the darker tone to Closer.  Still, these are cold, cold people.  Some have compared the film to Sideways in that the central characters all have their flaws.  In my opinion, Closer is not as good.  In Sideways, I could relate and understand the thoughts and the motives of the characters.  Here, I felt isolated.

That said, there is one brilliant scene between Clive Owen and Jude Law.  It’s a conversation in Larry’s office and it’s why I think Clive Owen deserves the Oscar.  I feel strange saying that since I’ve never rated this ability until now but the role does suit.  Fans of Natalie Portman will enjoy seeing more of her than ever before.  No nudity but you can’t go much “closer”.

A film to be celebrated for its performances rather than its screenplay, Closer is an appealing film but don’t be surprised if you’re feeling empty by the end of it.