If you notice one thing in Mike Nichols' Closer, it's the fact that, with the exception of one line spoken during the final scene (and a smattering of background voices), nothing is ever said unless it is said by one of the four principal characters of the film - Nichols subtly unnerving cause-and-effect scenario that manages to keep the closeness of the stage play intact.
The story of four individuals in London who cross hatch each other on all levels of emotional, sexual and predatorial lines. Dan (Jude Law), an obituary writer with major commitment problems falls in love with Alice (Natalie Portman) an American stripper escaping her life back home, but in turn falls for Anna (Julia Roberts), a romantically confused photographer, who begins dating Larry (Clive Owen), a sexually manipulative doctor. Just as you are feeling simpathy for a character, the staus quo revolves and your loyalties lie with a different person. Closer has been called a sexually explosive movie by many - a sexfest!? - but not one single sex scene occurs on screen and nobody ever even gets naked (not even stripper Alice), but with a script that is almost nothing but sex and betrayal and the pain of relationships, people tend to get confused.
With Nichols use of uneven continuities and smooth seemingly non-existent editing, Closer comes off feeling as if its possible magnificence is being held back by an invisible wall of lies that could come crashing down at any moment. Shocking, but in a world where shock doesn't ever come easy, the film winds it way through betrayal after betrayal after revenge after retaliation like a cobra winding its way through the darkened theatre - never knowing where or when it will strike, just knowing that someone will get hurt when it finally does. Nichols, who manages to get the best out of his four Actors (finally people are going to take notice of the under-used and under-appreciated Clive Owen!), weaves Patrick Marber's screenplay (adapted from his own play) around the screen with the touch of Midas, and although it crackles and twinges with the possibility of falling to pieces, he manages to produce a fine work of art that is both concise and potentially explosive throughout. [12/12/04]