You may like Closer because of its flawed characters and their doomed relationships. I like it because it's square. The assorted combinations of love and friendship, scorn and resentment, among two males and two females are literally geometrical. Typically, the dependable love triangle pits three characters together, often a heterosexual convention establishing a male lead zig-zagging between two females, or a female lead choosing between two male suitors. What if we include an extra character? How many triangles can be made with four individuals? Four! And Closer expertly covers them all. Next time you see it, draw out a square with each character occupying a corner. Then connect each of the couplings and triangles as they occur, beginning with Julia-Jude-Natalie. Jude falls for Natalie, introduces her to Julia who gets intimate with her camera. The Jude-Clive-Julia triangle is a clever one. Clive is introduced when Jude seduces him online pretending to be Julia who he meets at the aquarium. Often when a movie script or stage play adheres to a strict formula, it turns out flat and predictable. Not Closer. Applying a quadrangular network forces each character to cover all the bases, tagging up every way possible, pushing each juncture to the limit.
Based on a 1997 play of the same name, Closer cannot help but feel too much like the play that it is, even as a film adaptation. IT manages to use some elements that a stage production cannot such as the addition of music and atmospheric cinematography, but it still feels like something that should remain a stage production. Closer takes place in very few situations, and I would be able to enjoy that more if the plot structure didn't keep on getting in the way of it.
The amount of time skips in Closer can be somewhat overwhelming. Closer is already a film without much happening, but the fact that it keeps on constantly skipping between so many extensive points in time really were fazing. Closer tries to stretch little material over a long period of time in terms of chronology, and that kind of formula gets really repetitive and loses spirit really fast. The intro to Closer is fairly conventional, and then from there the constant skips in time ensure that the film loses the potential for its edge. I feel like this would be more interesting to see on stage because the transition between things could be more emphasised through acting while in the film adaptation there was little to convince me that time had actually passed. All in all, Closer just does not have the right material which would be thoroughly interesting as a film. Perhaps that is just me because I am not the biggest fan of plays and particularly films which seem too theatrical to capitalise on their cinematic potential, but either way I did not find myself embracing the material in Closer and in the process I was simply worn down by the limited storytelling and constant amount of skipping through time. I appreciate the fact that Mike Nichols tried, and he really did a good job illuminating the dramatic mood of very many scenes nicely, but the fact is that Closer ended up being sporadically entertaining at best and largely tedious due to its plot structure and slow pace which stretches on for way too long. I will admit that the script had some interesting scenes and strong dialogue, but the key word there is some.
Despite the strange structure and general sense of uneasiness from the film, the cast in Closer have no problem standing up and delivering a strong effort.
Jude Law makes a fine lead in Closer. With the material in the film being so complicated in its examination of relationships, the nature of his character is intriguing due to the fact that Dan Woolf is a very obsessive man who is full of determination with his actions getting in the way of common sense much of the time. Jude Law sinks into the role with dedication to every little detail which is intriguing to witness. The tension in his facial expressions and line delivery makes him strong on both a physical and emotional level. Jude Law is great in Closer, and his interactions with Natalie Portman and Julia Roberts craft some interesting scenes since he is able to hold up the theatrical nature of the drama very well.
After playing many roles as a child and delivering middling efforts in the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy, Natalie Portman is handed a very mature role to step into for Closer. The former child actor takes on a very daring role in Closer, portraying a troubled stripper. Natalie Portman's fearlessness in tackling the material as it comes to her and stripping herself physically and metaphorically. Her performance is a restrained one which captures the complicated nature of her character without going melodramatic or losing sight of her focus. Natalie Portman brings a strong sense of spirit to her role and grips the part with determined strength and a distinct absence of fear which pays her a lot of credibility as an actress, and her Academy Award nomination is a sign of well-deserved recognition for her talents.
Clive Owen also makes a name for himself in Closer. In the part of Larry Gray, Clive Owen begins simply as an everyman with his casual appearance and demeanour, but gradually develops into much more as his character becomes more involved in the story. He starts out slow and gradually gets more determined in the role which makes him an intriguing presence as the film goes on. His tense chemistry with the main three cast members is very impressive because he has no problem dishing it out whenever he is on screen. Clive Owen does a really strong effort in Closer and has some powerful scenes of interaction with the other cast members which really stands out as memorable, meaning that his Academy Award nomination was also a deserved piece of recognition.
And lastly, Julia Roberts does her part as well. Though she hardly stands out among the cast and her role is a lot smaller thanyou might expect, she has no problem standing up in her part and bringing a sense of drama to her role. Her facial expressions constantly express a show of trouble afoot and her line delivery is a really intense one which does not lose sight of the important realism in it all. Julia Roberts' experienced acting abilities second fiddle to the other main actors in the cast of Closer, but the importance and effectiveness of her role remain still clear nevertheless and so she is a welcome addition to the cast. The endeavour of her performance comes from her interactions with Jude Law.
So Closer benefits from some incredible performances from all four of its main cast members and Michael Nichols is able to emphasise the dramatic nature of it all fairly well, but it fails to make up for the fact that Closer's material is planted firmly in its theatrical roots and falters due to a poor plot structure.