Closer (2004 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Mike Nichols|
|Produced by||Mike Nichols|
|Written by||Patrick Marber|
by Patrick Marber
|Edited by||John Bloom|
Antonia Van Drimmelen
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|Box office||$115.5 million|
Closer is a 2004 American romantic drama film written by Patrick Marber, based on his award-winning 1997 play of the same name. The film was produced and directed by Mike Nichols and stars Julia Roberts, Jude Law, Natalie Portman, and Clive Owen. The film, like the play on which it is based, has been seen by some as a modern and tragic version of Mozart's opera Così fan tutte, with references to the opera in both the plot and the soundtrack. Owen starred in the play as Dan, the role played by Law in the film.
A beautiful young woman (Natalie Portman) and Dan Woolf (Jude Law) see each other for the first time from opposite sides of a street as they are walking toward each other, among many other rush-hour pedestrians. She is a young American who just arrived in London, and Dan is an unsuccessful British writer who is on his way to work, where he writes obituaries for a newspaper. Not used to the direction of the traffic, she looks the wrong way as she crosses the street and is hit by a taxi cab right in front of Dan. After he rushes to her side, she smiles at him and says: "Hello, stranger."
He takes her to the hospital, where she is treated and released. Afterward, on the way to his office, they stop by Postman's Park, the same park that he and his father visited after his mother's death. Pausing in front of the office before going to work and leaving her, Dan reminds her that traffic in England tends to come on from the right. On impulse, he asks her name, which she gives as Alice Ayres. They soon become lovers.
A year later, Dan has written a novel based on Alice's life. While being photographed to publicize it, he flirts with the American photographer Anna Cameron (Julia Roberts). Anna shares a kiss with Dan before finding out that Dan and Alice are in a relationship. Alice arrives and uses Anna's bathroom, leaving Anna and Dan alone again. Dan takes the chance to try to persuade Anna to have an affair with him but is cut short by Alice's return. Alice asks Anna if she can have her portrait taken as well. Anna agrees, and Alice asks Dan to leave them alone during the photo shoot. While being photographed, she reveals to Anna that she overheard them, and she is photographed while crying. Alice doesn't tell Dan what she heard, and Dan spends a year brooding over his interest in Anna.
Another year later, Dan enters a cybersex chat room and randomly meets Larry Gray (Clive Owen), a British dermatologist. With Anna still on his mind, Dan pretends to be her, and using the pretense that they will be having sex, Dan invites Larry to meet at the aquarium, where Anna told Dan she often went. Larry goes to the rendezvous, where he by chance meets Anna, and learns that he is the victim of a prank. Anna tells Larry that a man who had pursued her, Dan, was most likely to blame for the setup. Soon, Anna and Larry become a couple, and they refer to Dan as "Cupid" from then on.
Four months later, at Anna's photo exhibition,[note 1] Larry meets Alice, whom he recognizes from a photograph of her in tears that is being exhibited. Larry knows that Alice and Dan are a couple from talking to Anna. Dan persuades Anna to become involved with him. They cheat on their respective lovers for a year, even though Anna and Larry marry halfway through the year. Eventually Anna and Dan each confess the affair to their respective partners, leaving their relationships for one another.
Alice becomes a stripper, heartbroken by her loss. One day, Larry runs into her accidentally at the strip club. He repeatedly asks her real name, but no matter how much money he gives her, she keeps telling him her name is Jane Jones. He asks her to have sex with him, but she refuses.
Later, Larry and Anna meet for coffee. She asks him to sign their divorce papers, and he bargains with her—she agrees to sleep with him so that he will sign the documents and thereafter leave her alone. Anna and Dan meet the same day at the opera house. Soon after she reveals to him that the divorce papers have been signed, Dan realizes she has had sex with Larry. She claims she did it so he would sign the papers and leave them alone, but Dan is furious and does not trust her.
A distraught Dan confronts Larry to try to get Anna back. Larry tells him Anna never filed the signed divorce papers and suggests that he return to Alice. Since Dan doesn't know where she is, Larry tells him. During the conversation he claims he did not have sex with Alice, but just before Dan leaves he admits that he did.
Alice takes Dan back and decides to return to the States on vacation. While in a hotel room celebrating being back together (and noting that it has been four years since they first met), they talk about the way they met. After bringing up Larry, Dan asks her whether she had sex with him. She initially denies it, but when Dan comes back from going to get cigarettes and instead brings back a rose, she says she doesn't love him anymore and that she did sleep with Larry. Dan reveals that Larry had already told him about the escapade, but he says he forgives her. She insists that it's over and tells him to leave. The argument culminates in Dan slapping Alice.
At the conclusion of the film, Larry and Anna are together, and Alice returns to New York City alone. As she passes through the immigration checkpoint on her way back into the United States, a shot of her passport shows her real name to be Jane Rachel Jones. She had lied about her name during her entire four-year relationship with Dan but had told Larry her real name at the strip club.
Back in London, Dan returns to Postman's Park, and to his surprise, notices the name Alice Ayres on the tiles of the Memorial to Heroic Self-Sacrifice. The Ayres dedication is to a young woman, "who by intrepid conduct" and at the cost of her young life, rescued three children from a fire.
The final scene, which resembles the first, shows Jane walking on a New York street alone being stared at by several of the men around her. She crosses a crosswalk that appears to have a "Don't Walk" signal up.
- Julia Roberts as Anna Cameron
- Natalie Portman as Alice Ayres / Jane Jones
- Jude Law as Daniel "Dan" Woolf
- Clive Owen as Larry Gray
- Nick Hobbs as Taxi Driver
- Colin Stinton as Customs Officer
The main theme of the film follows Mozart's opera Così fan tutte, with references to that opera in both the plot and the soundtrack. One of the pivotal scenes develops to the background of the overture to Rossini's opera La Cenerentola ("Cinderella"). The soundtrack also contains songs from Jem, Damien Rice and Lisa Hannigan, Bebel Gilberto, the Devlins, the Prodigy and the Smiths.
The music of Irish folk singer Damien Rice is featured in the film, most notably the song "The Blower's Daughter," whose lyrics had parallels to many of the themes in the film. The opening notes from Rice's song "Cold Water" are also used repeatedly, notably in the memorial park scenes. Rice wrote a song titled "Closer" which was intended for use in the film but was not completed in time.
The review summary site Rotten Tomatoes shows 68% positive ratings among 211 reviews, and an average rating of 6.61/10. The website's critical consensus states, "Closer's talented cast and Mike Nichols' typically assured direction help smooth a bumpy journey from stage to screen." Another review aggregator, Metacritic, shows a weighted average score of 65 out of 100, based on 42 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Roger Ebert, writing for the Chicago Sun-Times, said of the people involved with the film, "[t]hey are all so very articulate, which is refreshing in a time when literate and evocative speech has been devalued in the movies." Peter Travers, writing for Rolling Stone, said, "Mike Nichols' haunting, hypnotic Closer vibrates with eroticism, bruising laughs and dynamite performances from four attractive actors doing decidedly unattractive things." Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times wrote, "[d]espite involved acting and Nichols' impeccable professionalism as a director, the end result is, to quote one of the characters, 'a bunch of sad strangers photographed beautifully'." The New York Times' A. O. Scott wrote, "[u]nlike most movie love stories, Closer does have the virtue of unpredictability. The problem is that, while parts are provocative and forceful, the film as a whole collapses into a welter of misplaced intensity." In a review on The Atlantic website, Christoper Orr described the film as "flamboyantly bad" and "irretrievably silly, a potty-mouthed fantasy that somehow mistakes itself for a fearless excavation of the dark recesses of the human soul", suggesting that what might have worked on stage came across as "ostentatious melodrama" on film. In a review on the Allmovie website, Perry Seibert praised the acting, the direction and the screenwriting, stating that Clive Owen "finds every dimension in his alpha-male character", Julia Roberts "shows not an ounce of movie-star self-consciousness", Natalie Portman "understands [her character] inside and out" and affirming that "[w]ith his superior timing, Nichols allows each of these actors to hit every funny, cruel, and intimate moment in the script".
The film was released on December 3, 2004 in North America. Closer opened in 476 theaters, but the theater count was increased after the film was released. The film was domestically a moderate financial success, grossing $33,987,757. Huge success followed in the international market, where the film grossed an additional $81,517,270; over 70% of its $115,505,027 worldwide gross. The film was produced on a budget of US$27 million.
Awards and nominations
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- The scene at the photo exhibition is the only one where all four characters are seen together.
- "boxofficemojo.com". Closer (2004). Retrieved March 21, 2006.
- Daniel Felsenfeld (November 8, 2006). "Così fan tutte and the Shock of the Now". Retrieved June 8, 2009.
- "Così fan tutte and the Shock of the Now" by Daniel Felsenfeld, Nov 08, 2006
- "Closer – Movie Reviews, Trailers, Pictures – Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved May 5, 2020.
- "Closer (2004): Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved November 7, 2009.
- Ebert, Roger (December 2, 2004). "Closer". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved October 7, 2015.
- Travers, Peter (December 3, 2004). "Closer". Rolling Stone. Retrieved October 7, 2015.
- Turan, Kenneth (December 3, 2004). "Love, sadistically". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 7, 2015.
- Scott, A. O. (December 3, 2004). "When Talk Is Sexier Than a Clichéd Clinch". The New York Times. Retrieved October 7, 2015.
- Orr, Christopher (March 2005). "The Movie Review: 'Closer'". The Atlantic. Retrieved July 22, 2016.
- Seibert, Perry. "Closer: Review". Allmovie. Retrieved April 19, 2020.
- "Closer: Releases". Allmovie. Retrieved April 19, 2020.
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