Natalie Portman as Alice
Jude Law as Dan
Julia Roberts as Anna
Clive Owen as Larry
The movie Closer is based on the Patrick Marber play of the same name, and it feels like a movie adaptation of a play. Aside from the four leads, there is little interaction with anyone else, and the plot is all dialog driven with almost no action. It makes for a very intimate feel to the movie, which goes well with the subject matter.
Dan (Jude Law) and Alice (Natalie Portman) meet and fall in love instantly. The film follows their relationship, and the interrelationships with Anna (Julia Roberts) and Larry (Clive Owen), over a four year period. All of the mundane day-to-day interactions are removed, resulting in the focus being on the major life-altering turning points. This has two effects. The first is that time often flies by, sometimes six months to a year passes between scenes. The second is that you usually see the characters at their worst.
Since the sweet and humanizing experiences are taken out, the pivotal confrontations seem more petty, cruel, or callous. It is hard to feel sympathetic for the characters since each one has done something that deserves no sympathy. This inability to empathize with them creates a lack of concern for them that, ultimately, is reflected in the movie itself.
In spite of that, all four of the leads give great performances. Every one of the characters is damaged in some way, and the actors bring the internal flaws out incredibly well. Clive Owen took his role from the stage to the screen and the transition shows that his mastery of the part is complete. The range of emotions that the characters run through shows just how good all of them are at their craft. The movie has some of the best ensemble acting in any film this year.
Technically the movie is seamless Hollywood. Cinematography, editing and the score are all up to major release standards. The content of the film might be a bit much for some people: the language is often foul and there is some nudity and powerful sexual situations.
Who should see this movie? If you like any of the leads, they are all worth watching here. Julia Roberts gives one of her better performances, and Natalie Portman further distances herself from the Star Wars franchise with a strong and daring role. There are a few genuinely funny moments in the movie, but it is far from a comedy. The action is nonexistent, so you need to go elsewhere for that. Many of the situations are open to interpretation allowing for continued thought and reflection well after the house lights turn on. Some people will find that the events depicted resonate very strongly for them, making the film personally fulfilling. Others, however, will have a hard time enjoying a movie populated by characters they do not like. The more dysfunctional your relationships, the easier it will be to relate to the film. Overall, Closer is a good movie that some people will hate.