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Genre: Drama
Rated: R
Directed by
: Mike Nichols
Produced by: Mike Nichols, John Calley, Cary Brokaw
Starring: Jude Law, Natalie Portman, Julia Roberts, Clive Owen
Released by: Columbia Pictures

In Short: This eagerly anticipated Mike Nichols picture delivers a caustic twist on sexual politics and seduces you into its story with pretty faces.

Closer: Caustic, Current and Poignant
The Dangers of Closeness
By Cherie Saunders

Adapted 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.

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