Friday, Dec. 17, 2004


Director Mike Nichols' faithful, lucid transfer of the Patrick Marber play would be important even if it weren't terrific, for it avoids the narrative and emotional laziness of most films. Modern cinema is the fairy-tale business: the manufacturing of clear-cut heroes and villains, the posing of ethical dilemmas that are a cinch to resolve. That's not the way life is. Closer is like life, but with prettier people who talk smarter about the pain they feel and inflict. The two men (Jude Law, Clive Owen) and two women (Julia Roberts, Natalie Portman), who dance in and out of one another's lives and beds, are too complex, too loving, too alive, too damned human to be always right — or wrong. When the film is over, you can condemn or justify each character, as if he or she were someone as close to you as... you.