Saturday, January 07, 2006


Closer movieNatalie PortmanDirected by Mike Nichols
Reviewed by Byron Merritt



CLOSER is one of those films you have to prepare yourself for. Anyone who’s seen a play that’s been adapted to film will know that there’s not a helluva lot of action (this one being Patrick Marber’s excellent Broadway play). But you can get some excellent dialogue and great character studies.

Meet four screwed-up but beautiful people: Alice (Natalie Portman), an American stripper just arrived in London who gets bumped by a car; Dan (Jude Law), an obituary columnist for a local newspaper; Anna (Julia Roberts), a professional photographer who’s recently divorced; and Larry (Clive Owen), a dermatologist with serious sexual issues.

When Dan sees Alice hit by the car, he rushes to her aid and helps her to the hospital, where she’s treated and released. But a strange relationship develops as the two banter back and forth with some snappy dialogue and incisive glances. Dan also knows Anna, the photographer, and is "in love" with her and tries to get her into a relationship. But when she refuses (initially) Dan and Alice move in together. But he’s not through with Anna. Dan pretends to be her during an on-line chat session with Larry, the dermatologist, and asks to meet him at the London Aquarium, where Dan knows Anna visits and shoots film often. Thus, Larry makes an ass of himself when he first meets Anna, but they soon are entwined in a relationship, too.

About a year later, because of Dan’s persistence, Anna relents and forms a relationship with him, even though she’s now married to Larry. And Larry is a bit taken with Alice (the stripper), too. Sound convoluted? It is, but it’s also terribly insightful into the lives of human beings.

As I stated at the beginning of this review, the movie-watcher needs to be prepared for a film like this before sitting down with it. It’s not fast-paced or action driven. It’s ALL ABOUT THE CHARACTERS. The awful and wonderful things we do to each other isn’t candy-coated, and the language is brusque and often pornographic.

There are also some nice little secrets about the characters that seep into the film and add a titillating surprise for those who watch CLOSER than most (for instance, check out "Alice’s" passport toward the end of the film as she re-enters the United States).

Be warned, though, this film isn’t for everyone. Children and preteens should NOT watch it. Those who don’t care for the vulgarities of sex-talk should also avoid it. But if you enjoy intense characters doing profound things to each other, you’ll undoubtedly delight in this little flick.

Click here for the Closer movie trailer!


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