Closer features one of the most beautiful casts ever assembled. Alice (Natalie Portman) and Dan (Jude Law) face an obstacle in their relationship when Anna (Julia Roberts) is hired to take Dan's picture for a book cover jacket and a passionate kiss between the two ensues. Although obsessed with Anna, Dan then accidentally introduces her to Larry (Clive Owen), who is taken by her charm (and her typing skills), and ends up marrying her. The results -- affairs, fighting and heartache.

From first glance, the film seems cliched, but the script is a fresh and innovative one (courtesy of playwright David Marber). Julia Roberts, who isn't afraid to blurt out the f-word (in fact, we only hear the trademark horse laugh once), gives a decent performance, and Portman shines as a waiflike stripper who lives out of a knapsack and acts on her intuition.

As for the men, Law is a dashingly nerdy obituary writer who can't seem to make up his mind and Clive Owen is a saddeningly pathetic doctor from whom we get the biggest surprise of all. The plot is somewhat overshadowed by the dialogue, but rather than this making the film seem slow, it reveals the importance of being articulate towards the ones you love or even the ones you hate. Fans of the play on which this film is based, beware; in the movie version there are a few minor script changes as well as one major one. Still, on the whole, Nichols does not steer away from the tone or language of Marber's masterpiece. Prepare to see real life as you know it; people who don't know what they want and don't know how to keep what they have. This film is a knee-slapping tear-jerker that will make you say to yourself, "This feels like my life"


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