Anthony's Film Review

Closer (2004)

The complicated theme of love explored through four great performances...

Closer is a story that brings together four complete strangers in London. Natalie Portman plays Alice, a stripper who comes to London to get away from her life in New York. Jude Law is Dan, an obituary writer who meet Alice literally by accident. Clive Owen is a dermatologist named Larry. Julia Roberts plays Anna, a professional photographer. These are the four principal characters of the story, which is adapted from a play by Patrick Marber. In a way, the movie is like a cinematic play. Just about every scene involves dialogue between any two of the four characters in the same shot.

Several events bring them all together: a trip to the hospital, an appointment for professional photography, and even a humorous and embarrassing situation involving cyber sex. At this point, you think the couples are established and that a love story ensues. Well, if it were to proceed like that, there would be no drama. In fact, the big surprise is that it is not a love story. It's a betrayal story. Love and betrayal are opposing elements that often coexist in romance stories, but this one is different. It's not one part love and one part betrayal. It's more like one part love and four parts betrayal.

What you have is a quartet of characters who are in constant emotional torment with each other, because love plays a different kind of role. It acts here as an illusion, not a binding force. Instead of showing what love is about, the movie explores the endless search for it. All four characters show some degree of being close to one person and suddenly being closer to another. The Jude Law character is the one I think has this problem to the biggest degree. In fact, I would say that he is the one that starts the chaotic and heartbreaking events in motion.

Once this premise is set up, the four actors give dramatic and powerful performances in their roles. It especially helps to have the characters interact with the others in every possible two-character combination so that you know how each one feels about the other three. The dialogue is written very well because it's full of conflict. That's the key element of any story and is not wasted here. If I had to pick my favorite scene, it would most likely be the one with Clive Owen and Natalie Portman in a strip club.

My only complaint is how there were good twists, but perhaps a little too many. In addition, the twists were opposite of each other, resulting in characters going back and forth between two lovers so that every possible man-woman couple is seen at least once in the whole movie. Aside from that, I have reasons to like the film. Closer is like a delightful romance story turned upside-down, portraying a more realistic situation of looking for love despite not knowing what it really is. I knew it would have conflict, but not this much. And the performances by all four actors are top-notch. Natalie Portman and Clive Owen deserved their Golden Globe awards for their roles, but let's not forget Jude Law and Julia Roberts. They did a great job as well. Closer is a film that works because it excels mainly on characters and dialogue.

Anthony's Rating:

For more information about Closer, visit the Internet Movie Database.


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