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Overall Rating
3.49

Awesome: 26.35%
Worth A Look32.93%
Average: 17.96%
Pretty Bad: 8.38%
Total Crap: 14.37%

12 reviews, 95 user ratings


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Closer (2004)
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by Lucas Stensland

"Arrogant, silly, awful."
1 stars

Mike Nichols’ Closer is the longest perfume commercial ever made. It is two hours of beautiful people saying pretentious, silly things. In one scene Natalie Portman exclaims, “Why won’t you let me love you?!” and then looks pensively into a mirror. Here’s some further evidence. The film’s beginning scene is a slow-motion sequence showing people hurrying down sidewalks, caught in London’s hustle-bustle, all except Jude Law and Portman, who get to strike movie-star poses that are supposed to exude meaning and humanity. One waits for a man’s voice to say “Obsession by Calvin Klein.”

Here’s the story. Novelist Dan (Law) and Larry, M.D. (Clive Owen) have sex with stripper Alice (Portman) and photographer Anna (Julia Roberts) and get angry about it.

Roberts’ Anna is an art photographer whose days seem to be eaten up with listless flirting and snapping pictures of people, which she calls “borrowing people’s lives,” and when she’s not doing that she can also be found sitting on furniture, staring off into space and thinking about herself. Emily Watson could have played this role. Susan Sarandon would have had to stretch for it. Julia Roberts just looks like she’s hoping nobody will notice her.

Nichols wisely tries to minimize Roberts in the film. In all of her key scenes the other three primaries are left to do all the heavy lifting. Her Anna is neither convincing as an artist nor as an object of desire. She is so toned down and vanilla that beautiful Anna could be a poster-child for the ill effects of anti-depressants. Quite simply, Roberts gives her detractors bullets. And if you ever wondered what a sentence would look like that contains “Julia Roberts” three times, please read on. When Julia Roberts isn’t in a Julia Roberts vehicle, Julia Roberts is not an interesting actress.

As demonstrated here and in Carnal Knowledge, Nichols foolishly believes that sophisticated urban types obsessing over lewd details is more significant than regular people doing the same. Portman and Law have it out and get reduced to jealous tears in front of enormous book shelves that pompously flank them in the composition. Law and Roberts have a bout of jealousy in the bar at an opera house. These examples don’t feel like criticisms of the urban elite and their callow flaws in the supposed world of sophistication because two of the four primaries don’t really like that world (dermatologist Owen and stripper Portman). It’s just the result of Nichols’ limited worldview. It’s the same ignorant instinct in Nichols that took The Graduate’s Mrs. Robinson, the victim of a boorish patriarchal society, from rebellious heroine to evil whore.

In Closer Nichols doesn’t need to make that sneaky transition. He openly demonstrates repeatedly that Anna and Alice both enjoy being reduced to whores. We learn that women often like to be treated badly, and men are willing to help them with that. Hey, don’t a lot of pornos say the same thing? One only needs to watch Woody Allen’s Husbands and Wives, Bergman’s Scenes From a Marriage or even TV’s “Seinfeld” to get a more knowledgeable and honest portrait of urban sophisticates and their relationships.

Further demonstrating how out of touch he is, Nichols decided to have his film open and close with Damien Rice singing his current download hit “The Blower’s Daughter,” which repeats the line, “I can’t take my eyes off of you,” with an acoustic guitar and cello accompaniment. If you don’t know Rice, he’s a user-friendly Nick Drake, minus the depression and originality. His light folk-rock music is listened to by the kind of people who think they like music but actually don’t.

An artist is supposed to give the audience not what they want but what they need, whether they know what they need or not, and if Nichols thinks we need to hear Rice affectedly croon “I can’t take my eyes off of you” to Portman and Law's narcissistic glances, then Nichols isn’t an artist: He’s an entertainer, and a lousy one at that.

If Hollywood gets criticized for producing something as fatuous as From Justin to Kelly, then it should likewise be criticized for making something as supercilious as Closer. Like the dreadful The Hours and 21 Grams, it’s an “art” film made for shopping-mall cineplexes. In other words, Closer is made for people who think they like movies -- but actually don’t.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=11189&reviewer=390
originally posted: 12/13/04 17:29:59
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User Comments

12/29/17 morris campbell mean spirited but HONEST 4 stars
12/09/12 Simon raw, crackling acting. not so smoothly made, but replaces the singular intesity of a play 5 stars
6/26/11 brian Does love turn to hate because of lies...or because of honesty? 5 stars
5/29/11 Shaun A It's a good film, but the heart's not in it. Maybe just not my kind. 3 stars
5/22/10 Dane Youssef One of the finest photographed plays in years. All fucking scorch like Gods. 5 stars
4/17/10 PAUL SHORTT MEAN-SPIRITED BUT WELL ACTED 3 stars
2/07/10 art natalie portman has an exotic dancer YAWN! 1 stars
7/18/09 Lesli Lovd NP..lovd when CO railed @ JR. If uve been cheated on, you'll relate well. 5 stars
12/22/08 CTT Shallow and hypocritical, thank God for Portman's ass 2 stars
4/26/07 mb How Four Pigs With A Bit Of Charm Live 2 stars
3/31/07 David Pollastrini Natalie Portman is hot in this! 2 stars
2/28/07 Keystra Williams Portman and Owen rule. Roberts and Law SUCK. 4 stars
2/19/07 Nick Maday I know Cate Blanchett was good, but I was rooting for Natalie Portman. Loved this movie. 4 stars
2/14/07 Bitchflaps Really quite shit, Law and Portman are vacuous, Roberts asinine, Owen irritating as fuck. 1 stars
10/21/06 Trevor Cathartic 5 stars
10/10/06 Bruce The film had an intrigue to it that makes you want to look deeper 4 stars
7/16/06 Marty character interaction was amazing. owen rocked, roberts was the weakest 4 stars
5/10/06 omar pretty good. i just like the song 4 stars
3/11/06 Tanya enjoyable 4 stars
12/16/05 Christina Silva Closer is the greatest most honest movie i have ever seen. It is so accurate. 5 stars
12/12/05 millersxing What posturing! Oversexed, understated, uber-chic, nauseating "relationship" drama. 3 stars
11/28/05 Cedric Oh, that lucky thong that gets to floss Natalie's dooky ditch! 4 stars
10/22/05 rebecca Vacuous piece of nonsense 1 stars
10/20/05 Uche I think it is a good movioe but I really don't understand the end. 5 stars
9/13/05 ray mero For me, this is a perfect date movie...after which a nicely amused and hooting fuck. 4 stars
8/11/05 ES How to commit adultry badly, I found sympathy for none of them, waste of money 1 stars
8/01/05 TheOthersFan Alice/Jane puts it most succinctly: "A bunch of sad strangers photographed beautifully." 3 stars
6/22/05 The Lurchprong Splitter Good acting from Portman, Law, and Owen, but arrogant Julia R just shitting on her laurels! 3 stars
6/14/05 Blanche Pope pretentious rubbish! 1 stars
6/03/05 Indrid Cold A fascinating look at love, lust, betrayal and lies in 21st century relationships. 5 stars
6/02/05 malcolm i had a portman 2xfeature with "Phantom Menace." should've got "The Professional" instead. 4 stars
5/02/05 dfa hello stranger! 3 stars
4/26/05 E-FUNK Clive Owen verbally berrates Julia Roberts. Worth every second of your time. 4 stars
4/19/05 Nicole Baugh Natalie Portman broke my heart in this movie. 4 stars
4/19/05 Elizaveta people do messed up shit to each other in the name of love. 4 stars
4/18/05 Calandria Dexter I thought this movie was fantastic! Wonderful twists! Love can be hard! 5 stars
4/16/05 Carol Conway It was okay 3 stars
4/11/05 Monday Morning Mike Nichols lost a lot of cred with this one. A huge disappointment except for JL and NP. 2 stars
4/11/05 Phil M. Aficionado Nicely made film about the kind of relationships that don't happen 'cuz they make no sense. 3 stars
4/07/05 Roderick Cromar Where I live, people simply don't behave like this. 2 stars
4/06/05 clatz Clive Owen should only play Pinocchio he is that wooden!! Portman is the only thing worhtw 1 stars
4/06/05 Ethan Clive Owen was amazing, good film 4 stars
4/03/05 Eric hardcore satire with characters who have no filter on what they think out loud 4 stars
3/14/05 Daveman A sober, resounding testament to the irrevokable consequences of infidelity... remarkable. 4 stars
3/12/05 Jim Totally engagaing end to end. Clive Owen - wow! 5 stars
2/21/05 fiona HOW BORING! It's Dawsons Creek for 30 somethings. Yaaaawn. 1 stars
2/20/05 abhster Clive Owen makes this movie. What a terrific role, although it's a lead, not supporting 5 stars
2/15/05 Why are fish therapeutic? Fish are not as therapeutic as Natalie Portman's crapper-flappers! 3 stars
2/14/05 H.P. Lovecraft Clive owen rules. Natalie portman too. 5 stars
2/05/05 xxplosive Natalie Portman makes this film worth seeing, she is outstanding throughout. 4 stars
2/05/05 John Bale Theatrical thesis on rampant infidelity, fine direction & acting. Natalie is riveting. 5 stars
2/02/05 lisa w definitely adult themed movie, which had a much different approach to relationships 4 stars
2/02/05 Weeez This film makes you address the darker side of relationships, and consequences. 4 stars
2/01/05 kaz cold as ice..no intimacy at all.. 1 stars
2/01/05 Alison Mosbeck I felt that this film was very well-made, but I was not crazy about the themes it presented 4 stars
1/30/05 Gretchen Lowe Natalie Portman is hot 5 stars
1/29/05 Wendy strange 4 stars
1/29/05 Lisa Clarizio Up there with Lost in Translation as one of the best movies where nothing happens 5 stars
1/29/05 petrushka Beautiful and cruel, fascinating. Portman & Owen shine in this adult look at relationships. 5 stars
1/27/05 Bert Rito Vote #1 Clive Owen for Bond! He was brilliant, as was Portman. Roberts looks like a horse. 4 stars
1/27/05 Roz I loved this movie. A fascinating adult look at truth, lies, fantasy and deception. 5 stars
1/25/05 michael shulman excellent script and excellent acting 4 stars
1/24/05 JDAWG This movie was horrible. "I love u, no, now I love u, but I'm gonna sleep with someone" 1 stars
1/17/05 Victor Amazin 5 stars
1/13/05 Pamela thought provoking 5 stars
1/09/05 aeon i liked it. It made me feel lessl ike a freak because i ask questions like that too.... 5 stars
1/03/05 The Mockingbird That's some honesty right there. I love Portman more than ever, and my my my Clive Owen 5 stars
1/03/05 Movie Lover waste of time. waste of Money. 1 stars
12/31/04 I.S> Worst piece of crap I've seen in years! 1 stars
12/28/04 Lynn disturbing. ruthless. absolutely loved it. 4 stars
12/27/04 Steve Nothing in this movie made me care about what happens. 2 stars
12/24/04 Gilly Concarne execrable 1 stars
12/22/04 carleton fine film , interesting everything 5 stars
12/21/04 Randy 2 excrutiating hours of witnessing 4 miserable, self-absorbed, uninteresting people 1 stars
12/19/04 Kyle Wonderful movie. 5 stars
12/19/04 jcjs wow, humdinger, tough stuff 5 stars
12/15/04 ZF an effective semi-wrenching film about people manipulating each other emotionally 4 stars
12/15/04 Elizabeth Interesting. The dialogue is too "written", though the CONTENT is believable. 3 stars
12/14/04 dbx If you're going to be pretentious, at least be good at it. 1 stars
12/13/04 UMER I COMPLETELY AGREE WITH LUCAS 1 stars
12/13/04 Lucas Stensland Worse movie I've seen this year 1 stars
12/13/04 Nicole Depressing - shows just how shitty people can treat each other 4 stars
12/12/04 Eric a bit of a downer, but great character development & shows that love/hate is very complex 4 stars
12/11/04 estherben good 4 stars
12/11/04 Dianne I appreciated it, but would be hard-pressed to say I liked it. 4 stars
12/11/04 Maureen I walked out. I was not prepared for the vulgarness. I am not a prude but after 1 hr. of it 1 stars
12/11/04 Suzz so-so acting; terrible screenplay;a 'message' only a 20/30 something could find revelatory 2 stars
12/10/04 I I 1 stars
12/08/04 Dirt Whore beautiful...I want to eat Natalie's ass 5 stars
12/06/04 Gary Not bad......Portman is hotter then ever! Good acting; poor script! 3 stars
12/06/04 Jimmy Kustes For a mainstream movie it had a very indie feel 4 stars
12/05/04 Donna I 4 stars
12/05/04 Kristina Williams I want Natalie to give me a pole lesson...PRONTO. 5 stars
12/04/04 Monica I couldn't appreciate this film. It was too filthy I had to remove myself from the theater 2 stars
12/02/04 Ratana Predicable, simular to other movies. 3 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  03-Dec-2004 (R)
  DVD: 29-Mar-2005

UK
  N/A

Australia
  26-Jan-2005


Directed by
  Mike Nichols

Written by
  Patrick Marber

Cast
  Natalie Portman
  Julia Roberts
  Jude Law
  Clive Owen



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