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The Closer

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: The Closer

Starring: Julia Roberts, Jude Law
Director: Mike Nichols
Rated: R
RunTime: 98 Minutes
Release Date: December 2004
Genres: Drama, Romance

*Also starring: Natalie Portman, Clive Owen, Michael Haley

Review by Steve Rhodes
2 stars out of 4

CLOSER, way too stagy to be a movie, makes minutes feel like hours, as two dysfunctional couples argue quietly and artistically -- think WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF ON VALIUM. The movie, based on Patrick Marber's play, clearly wants to be seen in an intimate setting on a small stage with an equally small audience who can admire the actors' whispered lines, which would never be spoken in real life and work only on a stage: "Lying is the most fun a girl can have without taking her clothes off," and "I hate retro. I hate the future. Where does that leave me?"

CLOSER is directed by Mike Nichols, whose last picture was the box office bomb WHAT PLANET ARE YOU FROM? He doesn't appear this time to realize that he is directing a movie and not a play. It will probably leave most audiences, as it did ours, fidgeting as it dragged on and complaining as they walked out.

The movie concerns four individuals with the type of professions that writers love to write about. One, of course, is a writer, Dan (Jude Law), an obituary journalist turned novelist. His girlfriend, Alice (Natalie Portman), is a stripper who performs in private booths. Anna (Julia Roberts), an artistic photographer, is paired with Larry (Clive Owen), a doctor whom she meets accidentally via a practical joke played by Dan.

The couples are politely vicious as they play musical beds. A typical scene has one of them demanding again and again to know the truth about an infidelity, which he already knows, and then being upset when the obvious is finally revealed.

Throughout the film, the actors never step out of their own personas. What we witness aren't four characters but four actors demonstrating their talents on what should be a stage rather than a screen. A movie that wants to be taken as devastatingly honest, it turns out instead to be tedious and phony, without a single believable character. Expect most critics to fawn over the film and most audiences to shake their heads, wondering what in the world the critics see in it.

CLOSER runs a long 1:40. It is rated R for "sequences of graphic sexual dialogue, nudity/sexuality and language" and would be acceptable for older teenagers.

Copyright 2004 Steve Rhodes

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