A review of “Closer” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: *** 1/2

Rating: R for nudity and language

Run Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

 

 

Love is the flip side of hate in this thought-provoking romance of seductive and destructive proportions.

Closer is based on the play of the same name and it benefits from its theatrical roots. Perpetually on the cusp of melodrama but never overly stagy, its demonstrative overtures are equally considerate and callous.

Four lonely souls are searching for passion; a need that blossoms into a roundelay of bitter emotion and bathetic betrayal.  Wannabe novelist Dan (Jude Law) meets part-time waitress/stripper Alice (Natalie Portman) on the street and its lust at first sight.  Flash forward to Dan and Anna (Julia Roberts) at a photo shoot with the sparks flying fast and furious.

Dan betrays Alice by seducing Anna, who in turn meets a quirky dermatologist named Larry (Clive Owen) and makes him her own.  The quartet ebb and flow through a series of highly-charged vignettes that resonate with the pain of love at its most base vulnerability.

Closer doesn’t soft-sell its emotional punch, operating on the principal that the human heart looks like (and feels like?) a fist wrapped in blood.  Scripting is smart and sharp; I’m a sucker for witty repartee such as “Lying is the most fun a girl can have without taking her clothes off” and “I love everything about you that hurts”.  Ouch!

Performances are top-notch, the four actors working their quirky ensemble with sensitive skill.  Portman lends her first official adult role a waifish air that belies a feminine strength.  Owen deserves an Oscar for baring his soul with vicious suggestion.

Sexy, deliciously perverse and oozing with immorality, Closer is the real deal.