Critics Consensus

Closer's talented cast and Mike Nichols' typically assured direction help smooth a bumpy journey from stage to screen.



Total Count: 209


Audience Score

User Ratings: 242,320
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Movie Info

Set in contemporary London, a story of passion, drama, love, and abandonment involving four strangers--their chance meetings, instant attractions and casual betrayals.


Natalie Portman
as Alice Ayres
Colin Stinton
as Customs Officer
Nick Hobbs
as Taxi Driver

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Critic Reviews for Closer

All Critics (209) | Top Critics (48) | Fresh (142) | Rotten (67)

  • Like dramas by Pinter and others, what seems trenchant and perfectly pitched in the theater can come off as arch even when skillfully transferred to film.

    Mar 19, 2009

    Todd McCarthy

    Top Critic
  • Owen and Portman give excellent, committed performances, leaving Law and Roberts in the shade.

    Jun 24, 2006 | Full Review…

    Dave Calhoun

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • Thanks to Marber's whiplash dialogue, the cast suffer with an eloquence that's uncommon in the movies, but that's about as far as it goes.

    Jan 17, 2006 | Full Review…
  • Closer, a lacerating four-character suite on the elusiveness of love and intimacy, finds Nichols returning to his roots without having lost his sardonic edge.

    Sep 26, 2005

    Scott Tobias

    AV Club
    Top Critic
  • Vibrates with eroticism, bruising laughs and dynamite performances from four attractive actors doing decidedly unattractive things.

    Mar 7, 2005 | Rating: 3.5/4
  • All the performances are strong, with Portman especially fearless and Owen simply fearsome as a man driven by his base instincts.

    Feb 15, 2005 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Closer

  • Dec 24, 2013
    It's so close to being a great drama, but although Closer has sharp and viciously cruel dialogue to spare, beneath all the screaming and swearing it's a mediocre melodrama that isn't quite as powerful or edgy as it aims to be.
    Joey S Super Reviewer
  • Oct 03, 2012
    A romantic drama written by Patrick Marber, based on his award-winning 1997 play. Directed by Mike Nichols has star galore: Julia Roberts, Natalie Portman, Jude Law and Clive Owen. The film has been seen by some as a modern and tragic version of Mozart's opera Così fan tutte, with references to that opera in both the plot and the soundtrack. The story of the relationships of two couples which become complicated and deceitful when the man from one couple meets the woman from the other started strongly... The good chemistry was present, and the interesting thing is that Clive Owen starred in the play as Dan, the role assumed by Law in the film. And I'll have to say, his transition to this new role was amazing! The film has received number of awards and nominations, including Oscar nominations and Golden Globe wins for both Portman and Owen for their performances in supporting roles... Very interesting script with literate and evocative speech even in the most unattractive brings the seriousness to everything actors had to say. But, for me at least, didn't have the final punch which will knock me down. Impeccably professional directing and acting somehow lacked the enthusiasm and passion... at the end collapsing in coldness of the ending.
    Panta O Super Reviewer
  • Aug 28, 2012
    Woah, Mike Nichols is still alive? I figured Diane Sawyer would have been finished sucking his soul out by 2004, though I suppose she let him kick around a little bit longer so that he could finally do his passion project: a romantic drama about relationships that emotionally collapse under the overwhelming weight of the lovers' flaws and having feelings for someone who is already in another relationship. Oh yeah, Mike Nichols has never done a film like that before, so I guess you could say that he's "graduated" to deeper rom-drams. Seriously though, this film is actually quite different from "The Graduate", partially because "The Graduate" was adapted into a major play, whereas this film is an adaptation of a major play. Well, I guess the the play of this film was major, because I don't really keep up with plays too much, as opposed to Mike Nichols, who just plain adores stage plays, just as much as he loves romantic drama films of this type, so he better be careful, or else he'll end up destroying his relationship with plays to be with romantic drama films about love triangles... or however many angles these film's sometimes slightly hard-to-keep-up-with romances have. Jeez, even Nichol's career is a love triangle between him, plays and films, and plus, he has had three failed marriages, so you know that he knows a thing or too about uncomfortable relationships, which I suppose explains why he works so well with that subject matter in film, or at least just "The Graduate", and I'm not even all that crazy about "The Grauate". Don't get me wrong, I like this film and all, but really, you can only watch good-looking, talented people talk for so long before you find yourself bringing your watch "closer" to your face. I may not be familiar with the play upon which this film is based, but I know enough about the theatre to tell that this film is undoubtedly faithful in many ways to the very dialogue-driven drama that I'd imagine the source material very much is, which is good and all, though perhaps this film gets to be faithful to a fault. There's a reason why histrionics are also known as theatrics, something that this film certainly takes no shame in flaunting, and thus, the film goes tainted to no end by theatrical melodrama that may not be terrible severe, seeing as how we're dealing with an English stage melodrama from 1997 and not 1597, yet is still there and doesn't work as well in the movie theater as it does in the Royal Theatre, because where the stage is a place of total fiction, film is simulated reality, and in reality, people don't usually behave like this and events don't usually play out like this, thus creating a kind of distance, exacerbated by almost, if not decidedly all characters' having a few almost glaringly unlikable traits. Again, the film's histrionics aren't terribly severe, but they do hit the scene, and fairly hard, with the only other aspect that's more problematic - and considerably more problematic at that - being the dialogue, not just because the dialogue gets to be a bit snappy for its own good, but because this film wants to make real good and sure that you know that you're dealing with a [u]dialogue-driven[/u] drama. Now, it's not like the dialogue runs unbearably overlong, and even if it did, it's not like this film has anything better to do (Sorry, dumb 14-year-olds, no guns or explositions, even with Watson from "Sherlock Holmes", Padmé Amidala and Dwight McCarthy from "Sin City"), yet the fact of the matter is that the film's scope is minimalist, so much so that there are points where this film makes sudden, gaping and all around messy leaps through time (Wait, they're married already? Didn't they meet three or four scenes ago?), and in that situation, you're going to have to keep up the pace, something that this film can't seem to get a handle on, as dialogue runs on and on, padding things out with too much exposition, which I wouldn't mind too much, were it not for the fact that the film's atmosphere is so dry, not to the point of rendering the film dull, but to the point of rendering it rather slow and, of course, kind of bland. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, when you get down to it, what ultimately does this film in as underwhelming is its being bland, as it takes too long to cover very, very little, which isn't to say that the minimalist scope would have carried this film all that far if things were tighter and livlier, as the film is what it is, though the problem is that the film doesn't have to be what it is. Scope could have easily been broadened, the script could have easily been tightened up and the story could have easily been brought further down the earth, and the final product would have come out more dynamic, less bland and altogether more rewarding, yet the problem is that this film follows the rules of the play world, to which it does not belong, for although the film is certainly not the still superior "Dogville", where people walk around along a sound stage as though it were the theatre stage, director Mike Nichols seems more interested in bringing Patrick Merber's play [u]to[/u] the screen, rather than adapting it [u]for[/u] the screen, thus leaving the neccessary barriers between film and stage to go penetrated and leave the film to stand too far out of its element to reward as much as it should have and very much could have. However, where the final product ultimately stands is a place that may not fully reward its audience, yet still engages, for although the film stands to be less problematically faithful, it's not like we're dealing with the adaptation of something poor, as it's the very faithfulness the film takes that helps in making it as enjoyable as it generally is. One of, if not the biggest problem with the film is the fact that it is all - and I mean "all" - dialogue, exposition and other various blah-blah-blah, to an exhausting extent, and it doesn't help that the dilalogue gets to be rather farfetched in its being too snappy, or at least until original playwriter and screenwriter Patrick Marber runs out of ideas for reasonably classy things to say and is left resorting to ever so gratuitously slapping down dialogue pieces that are so startlingly and unexpectedly obscene that you have to hear it - on a low volume, with headphones and everyone out of the room, with the exception of a psychological therapist to help you deal with the shock of the tainting of the honor of our respectable cast of talents - to believe it, yet the fact of the matter is that the dialogue is much more often than not snappy, often to the film's detriment, but perhaps more often to the film's benefit. There are plenty of dialogue pieces that are clever to the point of being farfetched, if not a bit whiplash-inducing, as you'll sometimes find yourself snapped back and forth a bit too swiftly amidst prime - nay - definitive examples of snappy back-and-forth, which distances the film's human touch, yet primarily sustains your attention, as the snappier parts of the dialogue spark livliness into the air, while most dialogue pieces - with the exception of the especially vulgar ones - still entertain to one degree or another, going pulled back, but not to where cleverness totally dissipates, just to where enough of a down-to-earth feel rises enough to catch some of your investment. What further catches your investment is the story, which may get to be a touch histrionic, as well as consistently tainted with a scope so minimalist that you never quite find the time to stretch your legs and absorb enough of this strong story for it to deliver all that profoundly, yet remains just strong enough for your investment to go captured just reasonably firmly enough for you to never really become all that disengaged from the film, even with all of its bland and melodramatic spots. I joked earlier about how director Mike Nichols often finds himself in a love triangle between play and film, but really, this film shows that such a love triangle isn't always going to work, as Nichols, in an attempt to organically marry themes and tones of stage and film, crafts a film that's a bit too uncertain of itself, yet we must not forget that Mike Nichols has been in the storytelling business for a long while and that he does have his heart in the project, and while that overambition ultimately leads to the film's final downfall as underwhelming, such ambition gives Nichols enough inspiration to create poignant moments, as well as a consistent charm, neither of which are enough for this film to fulfill its potential, yet remain enough to keep you invested in the story enough for all of the ceaseless exposition to work well enough (Yes, all of those "enough"s were intentional; speaking of way too snappy) in fleshing out the character aspects, the film's primary focus, which earns your attention more often than not, thanks largely to the people besides Mike Nichols who bring these character to life with inspiration. Jude Law and Julia Roberts have a little less to do than Natalie Portman and Clive Owen, yet they compel nonetheless through the charisma we've come to expect from them, as well as the depth, emotion and layers that we would expect and do, in fact, get from Law and Roberts, particularly Law. As for Natalie Portman and Clive Owen, I'm not entirely sure that they warranted Oscar nominations, let alone Golden Globe wins, for doing little more than crying and putting on some reasonably thick character layers in only a handful of scenes, yet make no mistake, there is still emotion and layers behind these performances, and that carries them quite a ways, as Portman and Owen have those moments of moving emotion - which define their characters as well-intentioned people who changed their lives for people who just end up betraying them -, while keeping consistent with enough of their own charisma and fair degree of depth for them to steal the show by a hair, or at least steal the show out from Julia Roberts, for although she is strong, seriously, when Jude Law gets ahold of material, he too is especially something to behold. Looking at all of the inspiration behind the ambitious direction and strong performances (and chemistry), it's hard to deny that this film definately could have been more, if the script and story gave us more, yet what we are given remains reasonably compelling enough for you to walk away, sadly not too rewarded, but having just had a reasonably enjoyable time. In the end, the irony in the title is palpable, as you'll find yourself morderately "distanced" by the film's collapses into melodrama, as well as exhausted by all of the excessive exposition and dialogue that tears at the steam of this startlingly minimalist story, until by the end, the final product comes out having taken, as I said two paragraphs above, way too long to cover very, very little, thus leaving it to collapse as underwhelming, though not totally disengaging, as the dialogue - ceaseless and sometimes too snappy though, it may be - still has a lot of primarily clever livliness and color (Much of which is blue, as in bad taste; seriously, why does this film have to be so vulgar?) behind it to provide some entertainment value, while the ceaseless exposition, while overwhelming, stands as reasonably effective in fleshing out our primary focus: the characters, partially with the help of inspired occasions in Mike Nichols' direction, and largely with the help of the charismatic, emotionally-driven and altogether strong cast, thus leaving "Closer" to stand as not nearly as good as it could have and should have been, yet still stand as enjoyable enough to win you over, even if it can't bring you too "close" or aim, in the immortal words of Geddy Lee, - yes, I'm gonna say it, and I can't believe it took me this long... - "closer to the heart". 2.5/5
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • Jan 21, 2012
    Portman's petite figure fits the needy fragile twenty-something woman well and she plays her part quite convincingly, as does Owen. However, Roberts gives an ineffective performance, especially for a actor of her repute, much like that of Law. I would have wished the movie more erotically intense, perhaps a little more dark and disturbing, the lines read with more conviction, or maybe just better lines altogether and less I-love-you's thrown around way too casually for my liking. The movie felt like a good idea insufficiently stringed out.
    Nastassia J Super Reviewer

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