The relationships of two couples become complicated and deceitful when the man from one couple meets the woman from the other. In London, struggling writer Dan (Jude Law) takes a mysterious part-time stripper (Natalie Portman) to hospital when she is hit by a car, she reveals herself to be Alice Ayers, and her reason for being in London is time for a bit of soul searching and to escape a former lover. Anyway, to cut a long story short, they fall in love with each other. One year later, Dan meets photographer Anna (Julia Roberts) and tries it on with her, only to be rejected. To get back at her, Dan sets her up for an embarrassing encounter with sex-mad dermatologist Larry (Clive Owen), but funnily enough, the pair end up falling for each other. Another year passes and affairs are happening all over the place. Over yet another year, all parties become obsessed with hurting each other, causing irreparable emotional damage. Who can be big enough to bring an end to the destructive sequence?
I LOVE this film. I saw Closer for the first time last year, but only got round to reviewing it now after forcing my friend to watch it with me the other day. The best way I can describe the story to you is by saying it is a modern take on the classic Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?. This is not the only similarity both titles share, however. A bit of useless information for you now; both films began life as plays, and both were adapted for the screen by Mike Nichols. Closer has received a very mixed reaction by all those who have seen it, but I’ll admit that I never tire of watching it. There are scenes I cannot help but laugh at every time I see it, plus two of my favourite people, Julia Roberts and Clive Owen, are in it. Some people have said that it is dire, but I can’t help but feel that perhaps that might be down to the fact that it takes such a realistic look at fledgling relationships and the insecurities there are within them, and that this approach shocks people. Nonetheless, I refuse to change my stance on this film.
The performances make the film for me. Facial expressions and tones of voices are what make the most memorable scenes. Jude Law as Dan was your typical bumbling British idiot who, of course, fell head over heels for the pretty American girl all alone in England. However, whilst Dan may have been a sweetheart with her, he had a ruthless streak that came out whenever he was trying to lure Anna into bed, or when he was trying to get one over on Larry. To put it simply, Law played a character Hugh Grant would’ve been proud of.
Natalie Portman as Alice was very good. Throughout the whole film, you never really found out who she actually was, just that she was in London looking for something, although what that was remains yet another mystery. She was a tart with a heart, and you just felt that she needed to be loved by someone. All the way through the film, Alice was so afraid of losing Dan, partly, I think, because he saw her as much more than just a stripper. In a way, you empathise with Alice more than any of the other characters because, unlike the others, she was never out to hurt anyone, and in the end, she makes the decision to finish the destructive chain of events.
Owen as Larry was brilliant. He played the sex-addict Doctor who thought he’d hit the jackpot when he met Anna. He gave us some of the best parts of the film – the Internet chat scenes and the most amazing argument that has ever been filmed. I’ve said before that he is one of my favourites, and that I think he is a remarkably underrated actor, and he proves again in Closer why I think these things.
Finally, Roberts as Anna. She was wonderful, and whilst she was as guilty as both the men of her infidelities, she was evidently the most torn up about what she had done. Anna always wanted what she couldn’t have, and that was her biggest problem. Of all the characters, she was probably the easiest to dislike purely because of what she kept doing time and time again.
All in all, I will say again that I love Closer. It is a bit of light entertainment if nothing else, and I urge all of you who have seen the film and not quite been fully persuaded by it to watch it again, but this time, take a Closer look into it.