Closer (2004/I) • USA

Two actresses, who I've thought often appear near empty, give intriguing performances here. Natalie Portman sizzles in this film and Julia Roberts acts like she was made for her part. This is a smart and daring film that knifes its way through its characters' lives with razor sharp dialog. It's pretty obvious this film was developed for the stage before it made it to the big screen.

There are many films that explore intimacy, lying, infidelity and other difficulties that burden relationships, but Closer does it with a wounding honesty. There are a number of times in this film that one character will sling an accusation at another and then be trumped by the self-critical analysis of the recipient's retort. Everyone here struts around with a Machiavellian self-image except for Julia Roberts. Her power appears to come from a purity, an ideal that others point to as impossible, and it comes as no surprise that that ideal is easily deflated by the pressures exerted upon her. If you like your films smart and brutal, check this one out. Don't be put off by the beauty of its stars. They are all made pretty ugly in this picture.


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