Review: "Closer"

Mike Nichols' Closer is one of two movies I hate but grudgingly respect, the other being The Rules of Attraction. Closer is the depressing tale of relationships gone wrong, fidelity ignored, and carnal lust indulged and counter-indulged to the last.

This is one of those art house films that can't quite decide if it's brilliant or irrelevant. As it begins, we find Dan (Jude Law) meeting the displaced American, Alice (Natalie Portman). Dan's a failed novelist who's writing obituaries. Later, we see him publishing his first novel, as Anna (Julia Roberts) photographs him. Dan makes a pass as Anna, even as Alice is on the way to meet him at the studio. All the characters read brilliant lines with no emotions.

As the movie progresses, the characters become more and more emotional, less rational and more randomly evil. Ironically, the only "pure" character is Alice, the inveterate smoker, stripper, and liar. The other points of the compass are, alternately, perverts (Larry), depressed adultresses (Anna), and hopeless creepy romantics (Dan). As we close, we find none are happy; despite having many chances to avert disaster, the only focus they have is ruining their own lives and driving away anyone that really loves them.

Like "Rules of Attraction", this movie will put you off relationships in general and marriage in particular. Each "breakup" scene had me recalling my own break-ups (down to individual lines of dialog in certain cases), and each reconciliation filled me with dread.

Closer is a wrenching, slow ride through the dregs of human soul. You've been warned.

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