Closer Review

Closer Review
Cast: Natalie Portman, Jude Law, Julia Roberts, Clive Owen
Director: Mike Nichols
Genre: Drama
Rated: MA 15+ sexual references, medium level coarse language
Running Time: 104 Minutes
If You Believe In Love At First Sight, You Never Stop Looking.

A bitingly funny and honest look at modern relationships, 'Closer' is the story of four strangers (Natalie Portman, Jude Law, Julia Roberts and Clive Owen) - their chance meetings, instant attractions and casual betrayals.

My Verdict:
Patrick Marber's drama 'Closer' debuted as a stage play in London in 1997 and director Mike Nichols ('Carnal Knowledge', 'Silkwood', 'Angels In America') has easily made the transition to screen. From the opening scene to the last, it is obvious that this movie was a stage play in another life, but giving it a life as a movie perhaps gives more people the opportunity to come and appreciate this quality work.

Jude Law is a wannabe author, Dan, who has had to settle on being an obituary columnist. He meets Natalie Portman by chance, who plays a stripper, Alice, who has just arrived in London from New York. This chance meeting extends into a relationship, from which another chance meeting will evolve to include Julia Roberts as Anna, which in turn, brings in Clive Owens as Larry, a dermatologist. All four become involved with each other, physically and emotionally, which is the crux of the dialogue driven narrative.

What follows is a series of scenes involving the interplay between the four characters as they deceive, plot, compromise and concede as they fall in and out of love with each other. The main issue covered is the degree of commitment and the loyalty towards their vows and pledges to one another. This allows for many slanging matches with so many clever and sometimes vulgar and crass discussions over fidelity. Clive Owens wins the prize as Larry for his powerful display of a man desperate for control and for being the most aggressive and forceful with his attitude. Natalie Portman is the other winner in 'Closer' for her manipulative and shrewd role as Alice, who may look like butter wouldn't melt in her mouth, but may hide deeper scars.

There is some very explicit language in a few scenes, especially in one between Dan and Larry as they chat over the internet on a sex chat line, with Dan cheekily masquerading as a woman. The scenes also jump ahead in time, sometimes a few years ahead, which can take a while to realise just how much time has passed as the characters swap partners and back and forth.

'Closer' is a study of human relationships and its ability to manipulate both mentally and physically. It is sometimes very demanding and very bold and daring but honest in its approach and may well strike a chord with anyone who has ridden the relationship merry-go-round, which just about covers everyone.

Rating : B

Christina Bruce