When you look at the DVD box for Closer, you see four very famous faces staring at you. You see Oscar nominations and Golden Globe wins touted. You see that there are basically no bonus features to speak of. And you also see something a tad misleading. ”At last, a love story for adults,” reads a glowing quote from Time magazine. Love story? I watched all 104 minutes of this devious depressorama and I didn’t find one act of love in the entire thing.
Let’s see. There’s the time the obituaries writer (Jude Law) tells his kooky stripper girlfriend (Natalie Portman) that he’s been having a yearlong affair with a photographer (Julia Roberts). And the time said photographer tells her sex-obsessed dermatologist husband (Clive Owen) how much better the obituaries writer is in the sack. (And let’s not even get into the hot-and-heavy online sex chat between the obituaries writer and the dermatologist.)
Closer doesn’t exactly make the best date movie, but that’s not to say it doesn’t ooze intensity and contain a couple of hypnotic performances. While I’m not buying Portman, who — Golden Globe notwithstanding — seems wildly miscast as a needy pole-dancer, and Law is fine as the skeezy charmer, it is Oscar nominee Owen who is nothing short of mesmerizing, providing the film’s funniest moments (yes, there are a few) and its scariest, as he alternates between wounded victim and competitive caveman. And Roberts (who barely cracks a smile throughout the entire movie) makes one of her most understated and painful (in a good way) turns. There may not be a lot of love in Closer, but at least there are some things to like.