Directed by: Mike Nichols
Produced by: Mike
Nichols, John Calley, Cary Brokaw
Starring: Jude Law, Natalie Portman, Julia Roberts, Clive
Released by: Columbia
Short: This eagerly anticipated Mike Nichols
picture delivers a caustic twist on sexual
politics and seduces you into its story with
Caustic, Current and Poignant
Dangers of Closeness
from Patrick Marber's Tony-nominated play, director
Mike Nichols (Angels in America) puts his spin on this
intricate tale of love, betrayal, jealousy and lies.
The plot revolves around four strangers: aspiring novelist
Dan (Law), photographer Anna (Roberts), dermatologist
Larry (Owen) and stripper Alice (Portman). Strangers
at the outset, chance meetings eventually draw these
disparate personalities together into relationships,
and ultimately affairs.
Anna meets Dan while photographing him for his first
novel. They hit it off, but Dan is also dating
Alice. Anna then meets Larry, whom she eventually
marries while still secretly dating Dan. Meanwhile,
Alice, spurned by Dan's cheating, begins sidling
up to Larry. These numerous liaisons seem artificial,
melodramatic and even whiny at times, but Nichols'
airtight direction, and the mesmerizing charisma
of the four lead actors make it difficult to simply
write it off. In this manner, "Closer" seduces
you into its story with pretty faces—including
the Sexiest Man Alive—doing vile, hurtful
things to each other in a juvenile game of one-upmanship.
Law continues the cad role he perfected in"Alfie,"
while Roberts' reserved emotion is a welcome change
of pace for the Academy Award-winning actress. Owen
burns with intensity as the scorned and bitter husband,
but the real joy here is Natalie Portman, all grown
up and handling her character's masked vulnerability
with honesty and sensuality.
Set against a contemporary London backdrop, all of this
complexity bumbles toward a final scene that suddenly
illuminates the film's title.