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Awesome: 26.35%
Worth A Look32.93%
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Pretty Crappy: 8.38%
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12 reviews, 95 user ratings

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Closer (2004)
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by Robert Flaxman

"The anti-date movie."
2 stars

If you really love your partner, don’t take him or her to see Closer, the latest Mike Nichols film. Its evident thesis is that every relationship is a sham of some sort and that “love” is a joke, a word bandied about by people with no idea of what it’s supposed to mean. It’s an ugly, cynical film made more troublesome by the overall appeal of its packaging.

Sprawled out over a four-year period, Closer tracks the various relationship permutations among writer Daniel (Jude Law), photographer Anna (Julia Roberts), stripper Alice (Natalie Portman), and doctor Larry (Clive Owen). Although the film’s basic concerns are love and sex, the latter receives no actual screentime. It’s easy to tell this was based on a play – we jump from one scene of talking to another scene of talking where some of the dialogue explains what happened in the often large gap of time that was most recently skipped.

Sex is all that really seems to drive any of these characters, though. Daniel lives with Alice for two years, then spends the next two years pursuing Anna after meeting her once (totally inexplicable, as Law and Roberts have about zero chemistry in this film). He ends up having an affair with her while she dates Larry, whom she met after he engaged in a cybersex session with Daniel, who pretended to be her.

In the trailer, Anna asks Daniel, “Why did you swear eternal love when all you wanted was excitement?” It’s a good question for the characters in this film as a whole, but the line was cut from the final product and the question is never answered. Why do the characters behave the way they do? More importantly, why does the film raise such questions and then try its hardest to avoid them?

The Daniel/Anna relationship makes, effectively, no sense, either as scripted or presented. Anna and Daniel meet once, when she takes his picture for the jacket of his book. They don’t seem to have any interest in each other or get along, then kiss anyway. Anna wants to go no further, as Daniel is taken. Daniel apparently spends the next four months stalking Anna – how sweet – and then, suddenly, they meet again at the opening of her gallery exhibition. They have now met twice. So what do they do? Claim to be in love with each other and start an affair. What?

Meanwhile, Anna has only been dating Larry for four months. She could have broken it off pretty easily if she were so in love with Daniel, but instead she marries Larry… only to tell him about the affair shortly thereafter and ask for a divorce. Why? Her only answer is that she thought it could work.

It’s bad enough that the relationships make little logical sense; they don’t even make sense on the most basic level. Because so many scenes feature characters either planning or explaining infidelities, there is virtually no chemistry between any of the leads for most of the film. Certainly it is immensely unclear how Law and Roberts get together; they just look uncomfortable in the same frame. Law and Portman sell the start of their relationship well enough, as do Owen and Roberts with theirs, but that these scenes work so well just makes the Law/Roberts affair look increasingly dull and pointless – and stripping the driving force behind most of your story of any believability is rarely a good idea.

Patrick Marber’s script, adapted from his own play, is a mixed bag. It has frequently great dialogue, but the time-leaping is awkward and the dialogue put in service of a fairly nasty message. Shockingly, the film actually ends with about the most pro-love conclusion possible, but this only makes the prior two hours seem more pointless.

The acting is likewise up and down, a bit of a problem when you have four leads and pretty much no one else (two other credited speaking parts, with one line each). Owen is the star of the ensemble – maybe having acted in the original play onstage works as an advantage, although he played Daniel there and not Larry, but he’s head and shoulders above the rest. Naked emotion, rage, dry wit, good humor – he does it all and then some. His Golden Globe was well-earned and an Oscar would be as well. The rest of the cast can’t live up to his example, though. Portman is fine but unspectacular, Law is great at times but seems to vanish for whole stretches, and Roberts just looks like she wants to be somewhere else. Of course, considering the character she’s stuck playing, who can blame her?

See Closer for Owen, and for some of the dialogue (much of it Owen’s), but stay away if you believe in love at all. Every time it seems the film is letting love win in some way, it twists the knife again, delivering either an arbitrary, uninspired declaration of love, or an arbitrary, uninspired explanation of why there’s no more love (or why what’s left isn’t enough). It never works. None of these characters is truly worth caring about, so why watch them do a series of bad things to each other? Bad things, stripped of a context in which they can truly be judged as bad, mean nothing, and such is the case here. All we’re left with is a vague attack on love’s reality, one that’s rather insulting, framed as it is by characters who never care whether love exists or not.

It comports itself relatively well, but Closer ultimately falls apart. It may have good dialogue, but none of it can hide the fact that the film really has very little worth saying. Revoltingly cynical even at its best moments, Closer’s refusal to do anything important with such a cast of awful characters makes it that rare specimen: a waste of a bad premise.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=11189&reviewer=385
originally posted: 01/27/05 02:14:06
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User Comments

12/28/17 morris campbell mean spirited but HONEST 4 stars
12/09/12 Simon raw, crackling acting. not so smoothly made, but replaces the singular intesity of a play 5 stars
6/25/11 brian Does love turn to hate because of lies...or because of honesty? 5 stars
5/28/11 Shaun A It's a good film, but the heart's not in it. Maybe just not my kind. 3 stars
5/22/10 Dane Youssef One of the finest photographed plays in years. All fucking scorch like Gods. 5 stars
2/06/10 art natalie portman has an exotic dancer YAWN! 1 stars
7/17/09 Lesli Lovd NP..lovd when CO railed @ JR. If uve been cheated on, you'll relate well. 5 stars
12/22/08 CTT Shallow and hypocritical, thank God for Portman's ass 2 stars
4/25/07 mb How Four Pigs With A Bit Of Charm Live 2 stars
3/30/07 David Pollastrini Natalie Portman is hot in this! 2 stars
2/27/07 Keystra Williams Portman and Owen rule. Roberts and Law SUCK. 4 stars
2/18/07 Nick Maday I know Cate Blanchett was good, but I was rooting for Natalie Portman. Loved this movie. 4 stars
2/13/07 Bitchflaps Really quite shit, Law and Portman are vacuous, Roberts asinine, Owen irritating as fuck. 1 stars
10/21/06 Trevor Cathartic 5 stars
10/09/06 Bruce The film had an intrigue to it that makes you want to look deeper 4 stars
7/16/06 Marty character interaction was amazing. owen rocked, roberts was the weakest 4 stars
5/09/06 omar pretty good. i just like the song 4 stars
3/10/06 Tanya enjoyable 4 stars
12/15/05 Christina Silva Closer is the greatest most honest movie i have ever seen. It is so accurate. 5 stars
12/12/05 millersxing What posturing! Oversexed, understated, uber-chic, nauseating "relationship" drama. 3 stars
11/27/05 Cedric Oh, that lucky thong that gets to floss Natalie's dooky ditch! 4 stars
10/21/05 rebecca Vacuous piece of nonsense 1 stars
10/20/05 Uche I think it is a good movioe but I really don't understand the end. 5 stars
9/13/05 ray mero For me, this is a perfect date movie...after which a nicely amused and hooting fuck. 4 stars
8/10/05 ES How to commit adultry badly, I found sympathy for none of them, waste of money 1 stars
7/31/05 TheOthersFan Alice/Jane puts it most succinctly: "A bunch of sad strangers photographed beautifully." 3 stars
6/21/05 The Lurchprong Splitter Good acting from Portman, Law, and Owen, but arrogant Julia R just shitting on her laurels! 3 stars
6/14/05 Blanche Pope pretentious rubbish! 1 stars
6/02/05 Indrid Cold A fascinating look at love, lust, betrayal and lies in 21st century relationships. 5 stars
6/01/05 malcolm i had a portman 2xfeature with "Phantom Menace." should've got "The Professional" instead. 4 stars
5/01/05 dfa hello stranger! 3 stars
4/25/05 E-FUNK Clive Owen verbally berrates Julia Roberts. Worth every second of your time. 4 stars
4/19/05 Nicole Baugh Natalie Portman broke my heart in this movie. 4 stars
4/19/05 Elizaveta people do messed up shit to each other in the name of love. 4 stars
4/17/05 Calandria Dexter I thought this movie was fantastic! Wonderful twists! Love can be hard! 5 stars
4/15/05 Carol Conway It was okay 3 stars
4/10/05 Monday Morning Mike Nichols lost a lot of cred with this one. A huge disappointment except for JL and NP. 2 stars
4/10/05 Phil M. Aficionado Nicely made film about the kind of relationships that don't happen 'cuz they make no sense. 3 stars
4/06/05 Roderick Cromar Where I live, people simply don't behave like this. 2 stars
4/06/05 clatz Clive Owen should only play Pinocchio he is that wooden!! Portman is the only thing worhtw 1 stars
4/05/05 Ethan Clive Owen was amazing, good film 4 stars
4/02/05 Eric hardcore satire with characters who have no filter on what they think out loud 4 stars
3/13/05 Daveman A sober, resounding testament to the irrevokable consequences of infidelity... remarkable. 4 stars
3/12/05 Jim Totally engagaing end to end. Clive Owen - wow! 5 stars
2/20/05 fiona HOW BORING! It's Dawsons Creek for 30 somethings. Yaaaawn. 1 stars
2/19/05 abhster Clive Owen makes this movie. What a terrific role, although it's a lead, not supporting 5 stars
2/14/05 Why are fish therapeutic? Fish are not as therapeutic as Natalie Portman's crapper-flappers! 3 stars
2/13/05 H.P. Lovecraft Clive owen rules. Natalie portman too. 5 stars
2/05/05 xxplosive Natalie Portman makes this film worth seeing, she is outstanding throughout. 4 stars
2/05/05 John Bale Theatrical thesis on rampant infidelity, fine direction & acting. Natalie is riveting. 5 stars
2/01/05 lisa w definitely adult themed movie, which had a much different approach to relationships 4 stars
2/01/05 Weeez This film makes you address the darker side of relationships, and consequences. 4 stars
1/31/05 kaz cold as ice..no intimacy at all.. 1 stars
1/31/05 Alison Mosbeck I felt that this film was very well-made, but I was not crazy about the themes it presented 4 stars
1/29/05 Gretchen Lowe Natalie Portman is hot 5 stars
1/29/05 Wendy strange 4 stars
1/29/05 Lisa Clarizio Up there with Lost in Translation as one of the best movies where nothing happens 5 stars
1/28/05 petrushka Beautiful and cruel, fascinating. Portman & Owen shine in this adult look at relationships. 5 stars
1/27/05 Bert Rito Vote #1 Clive Owen for Bond! He was brilliant, as was Portman. Roberts looks like a horse. 4 stars
1/27/05 Roz I loved this movie. A fascinating adult look at truth, lies, fantasy and deception. 5 stars
1/24/05 michael shulman excellent script and excellent acting 4 stars
1/23/05 JDAWG This movie was horrible. "I love u, no, now I love u, but I'm gonna sleep with someone" 1 stars
1/17/05 Victor Amazin 5 stars
1/12/05 Pamela thought provoking 5 stars
1/08/05 aeon i liked it. It made me feel lessl ike a freak because i ask questions like that too.... 5 stars
1/02/05 The Mockingbird That's some honesty right there. I love Portman more than ever, and my my my Clive Owen 5 stars
1/02/05 Movie Lover waste of time. waste of Money. 1 stars
12/30/04 I.S> Worst piece of crap I've seen in years! 1 stars
12/27/04 Lynn disturbing. ruthless. absolutely loved it. 4 stars
12/26/04 Steve Nothing in this movie made me care about what happens. 2 stars
12/23/04 Gilly Concarne execrable 1 stars
12/21/04 carleton fine film , interesting everything 5 stars
12/20/04 Randy 2 excrutiating hours of witnessing 4 miserable, self-absorbed, uninteresting people 1 stars
12/18/04 Kyle Wonderful movie. 5 stars
12/18/04 jcjs wow, humdinger, tough stuff 5 stars
12/14/04 ZF an effective semi-wrenching film about people manipulating each other emotionally 4 stars
12/14/04 Elizabeth Interesting. The dialogue is too "written", though the CONTENT is believable. 3 stars
12/13/04 dbx If you're going to be pretentious, at least be good at it. 1 stars
12/12/04 Lucas Stensland Worse movie I've seen this year 1 stars
12/12/04 Nicole Depressing - shows just how shitty people can treat each other 4 stars
12/11/04 Eric a bit of a downer, but great character development & shows that love/hate is very complex 4 stars
12/11/04 estherben good 4 stars
12/11/04 Dianne I appreciated it, but would be hard-pressed to say I liked it. 4 stars
12/10/04 Maureen I walked out. I was not prepared for the vulgarness. I am not a prude but after 1 hr. of it 1 stars
12/10/04 Suzz so-so acting; terrible screenplay;a 'message' only a 20/30 something could find revelatory 2 stars
12/09/04 I I 1 stars
12/07/04 Dirt Whore beautiful...I want to eat Natalie's ass 5 stars
12/05/04 Gary Not bad......Portman is hotter then ever! Good acting; poor script! 3 stars
12/05/04 Jimmy Kustes For a mainstream movie it had a very indie feel 4 stars
12/04/04 Donna I 4 stars
12/04/04 Kristina Williams I want Natalie to give me a pole lesson...PRONTO. 5 stars
12/04/04 Monica I couldn't appreciate this film. It was too filthy I had to remove myself from the theater 2 stars
12/01/04 Ratana Predicable, simular to other movies. 3 stars
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  03-Dec-2004 (R)
  DVD: 29-Mar-2005



Directed by
  Mike Nichols

Written by
  Patrick Marber

  Natalie Portman
  Julia Roberts
  Jude Law
  Clive Owen

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