This is a really hard film to review. Other than Natalie Portman’s character, the rest of the cast are very unlikable. Even Portman is no angel. The film is really well made though, the acting is brilliant.
The film is set in London and follows four people, two men and two women, who’s relationships are all intertwined. The film starts with Dan (Jude Law) meeting Alice (Portman) after he saves her from a nearly getting hit by a car on her first day in London after travelling from New York. They begin a relationship until Dan meets a photographer, Anna (Julia Roberts) while she is shooting head shots for a novel he is releasing. She brushes him off when she realises he is involved, but he pursues her regardless. He inadvertently pushes her into a relationship with Larry (Clive Owen), whom she marries after dating for a few years. Over the course of the movie, all four main characters enter in and out of relationships with one another.
As I said earlier, the acting here is phenomenal. Clive Owen is great as Larry. He is so powerful on screen, especially when he discovers Anna is cheating on him. The speech he gives in that scene is fantastic, and he was rightly rewarded with an Oscar nomination for this film. He is great. Portman matches Owen’s performance in this film, and received her own Oscar nod. Owen and Portman share one scene together in this film and it is the movie’s highlight. Granted, Portman spends the whole scene in a thong, but that doesn’t change the fact that this is the only time they are on screen together. It’s great seeing these two actors at the top of their game. The only weak link is Jude Law, he tries hard, but is a little out of his depth here and struggles to match the performances of Owen, Portman and Julia Roberts.
My biggest problem with this film is it does not do a very good job of explaining the time jumps. Each new scene is set in the future, sometimes months or years in the future. It is hard to follow when we don’t know the film has jumped forward so far. For example, after the scene where Alice and Dan meet, in the very next scene, it shows them living together. It’s not explained until much later that it is a few years later, which I found a bit confusing.
This film is quite depressing, there is not much of a happy ending for many of these characters. It is worth seeing for Clive Owen. He owns the character of Larry and gives the performance of his career.
Closer is like watching four people pick at a scab for an hour and forty five minutes. The storyline is painful and seeing the characters deliberately fuck with each other (figuratively and literally) is annoying.
Maybe this is better in it’s original form as a play, but the movie falls flat. There isn’t sufficient dialogue or build up to explain why the characters continually decide to pair up, break up, swap partners, and get back together. Then there are big jumps in time, which leave out the reasons for changes in the relationships. The viewer is left to deduce that the relationships depicted are no longer happy, but have no idea why.
At least the cast is pretty, because the dialogue is unnatural (again, probably better as a play) and the acting leaves much to be desired. Natalie Portman can be flirty and insightful, but she’s quite unbelievable as a free spirited stripper. In fact, I bet she’s never even watched a movie with strippers, because her moves aren’t very sexual. Julia Roberts seems to be phoning it in. Half of her scenes involve her looking off into the distance, and anyone she shares a scene with easily outshines her. Jude Law’s character starts off as a cad, and ends as a cad who doesn’t seem to have learned anything from his romantic mistakes (so, basically Alfie all over again). Clive Owen is just a brute. Also, what doctor engages in chat room sex right before performing surgery? And how would this sex chat scene even work on stage? It barely works here. It would have been nice to see some subtlety in his performance, but he just goes from zero to 60 and back again. There is no middle ground here.
I have never seen a movie filled with so many unlikable characters. I seriously did not care about any of them, and felt they all deserved their ultimate unhappiness.