Closer (2004 film)

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Closer movie poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byMike Nichols
Produced byMike Nichols
Cary Brokaw
John Calley
Written byPatrick Marber
Based onCloser
by Patrick Marber
StarringJulia Roberts
Jude Law
Natalie Portman
Clive Owen
Music byJohn Powell
CinematographyStephen Goldblatt
Edited byJohn Bloom
Antonia Van Drimmelen
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date
  • December 3, 2004 (2004-12-03)
Running time
104 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$27 million[1]
Box office$115 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.[2] Owen starred in the play as Dan, the role played by Law in the film.

The film was recognized with a number of awards and nominations, including Oscar nominations and Golden Globe wins for both Portman and Owen for their performances in supporting roles.


In the opening scene, 24-year-old "Alice Ayres" (Portman) and Dan Woolf (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. "Alice" is a young American stripper 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. She looks in the wrong direction as she crosses the street and is hit by a taxi cab right in front of Dan's eyes. After he rushes to her side, she smiles to him and says, "Hello, stranger." He takes her to the hospital, where Alice is treated and released. Afterward, on the way to his office, they stop by Postman's Park, the same park that his father and he visited after his mother's death. Pausing in front of the office before he leaves her and goes to work, Dan reminds her that traffic in England tends to come on from the right, and on impulse, he asks her for her name. 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 (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 still weeping over it. Alice does not reveal what she overheard to Dan, even as he spends a year stalking 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 and learns that he is 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,[3] 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 convinces 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 goes back to being a stripper, heartbroken by her loss. One day, Larry runs into her accidentally at the strip club. He asks her if her name is Alice, 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. The line of questioning becomes pornographic (albeit without any explicit nudity in the film).

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 papers and thereafter leave her alone.

Later Dan suspects the affair and Anna confesses, and they argue. She returns to Larry.

Distraught, Dan confronts Larry to try to get Anna back. Instead, Larry tells him Alice's whereabouts, and suggests that he go back to her. He also tells him that he had sex with Alice.

Alice takes Dan back. Alice also decides to return to the States and invites Dan to come with her and he agrees. While in a hotel room celebrating being back together (and noting that it has been four years since they first met on that London street when Alice was hit by a car in the opening scene), Dan asks her whether she had sex with Larry. She initially denies it, but when he insists on the truth, she tells him that she does not want to tell him the truth. But pressed to do so, 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.

The Alice Ayres tile in Postman's Park, London

In the end, Larry and Anna are together, and Alice returns to New York 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 four-year relationship with Dan, but had told Larry her true name at the strip club, when he had not believed her.

Back in London, Dan returns to Postman's Park, and to his surprise, notices the name "Alice Ayres" on a memorial that is dedicated 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 shows Alice/Jane walking on Broadway towards West 47th Street with male passers-by staring at her sexual beauty. This provides symmetry within the film as it echoes the opening scene where Alice/Jane and Dan are staring at each other on the sidewalks of London.




Closer was filmed at Elstree Film and Television Studios and on location in London.


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.[4] 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.[citation needed]


Critical reaction[edit]

The review summary site Rotten Tomatoes shows 68% positive ratings among 203 reviews.[5] Another review aggregator, Metacritic shows a weighted average score of 65 out of 100, based on 42 reviews.[6] 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."[7] 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."[8] 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'."[9] 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."[10] 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.[11]

Box office[edit]

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.[1] 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.[1]

Awards and nominations[edit]

The film won the following awards:

Year Award Category – Winner(s)
2005 BAFTA Awards Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role – Clive Owen
2005 Golden Globes Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture – Clive Owen
Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture – Natalie Portman
2005 Las Vegas Film Critics Society Best Supporting Actor – Clive Owen
2004 National Board of Review Best Acting by an Ensemble – Jude Law, Clive Owen, Natalie Portman and Julia Roberts
2004 New York Film Critics Circle Best Supporting Actor – Clive Owen
2004 San Diego Film Critics Society Best Supporting Actress – Natalie Portman
2004 Toronto Film Critics Association Best Supporting Actor, Male – Clive Owen

The film was nominated for the following awards:

Year Award Category – Nominee(s)
2005 Academy Awards Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture – Clive Owen
Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture – Natalie Portman
2005 American Screenwriters Association Discover Screenwriting AwardPatrick Marber
2005 BAFTA Awards Best Screenplay – Adapted – Patrick Marber
Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role – Natalie Portman
2005 Broadcast Film Critics Association Best Acting Ensemble – Jude Law, Clive Owen, Natalie Portman, and Julia Roberts
Best Supporting Actor – Clive Owen
Best Supporting Actress – Natalie Portman
2005 Golden Globes Best Director – Motion Picture – Mike Nichols
Best Motion Picture – Drama
Best Screenplay – Motion Picture – Patrick Marber
2005 Online Film Critics Society Best Screenplay, Adapted – Patrick Marber
Best Supporting Actor – Clive Owen
Best Supporting Actress – Natalie Portman
2005 Satellite Award Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Drama – Clive Owen
Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Drama – Natalie Portman
Best Film Editing – John Bloom and Antonia Van Drimmelen
Best Screenplay, Adapted – Patrick Marber
2005 Teen Choice Awards Choice Movie Actress: Drama – Natalie Portman

Home media[edit]

Closer was released on DVD in 2005 and Blu-ray on May 22, 2007.


  1. ^ a b c "". Closer (2004). Retrieved 21 March 2006.
  2. ^ Daniel Felsenfeld (November 8, 2006). "Così fan tutte and the Shock of the Now". Retrieved 2009-06-08.
  3. ^ The scene at the photo exhibition is the only one where all four characters are seen together.
  4. ^ "Così fan tutte and the Shock of the Now" by Daniel Felsenfeld, Nov 08, 2006
  5. ^ "Closer – Movie Reviews, Trailers, Pictures – Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2009-11-07.
  6. ^ "Closer (2004): Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 2009-11-07.
  7. ^ Ebert, Roger (2004-12-02). "Closer". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2015-10-07.
  8. ^ Travers, Peter (2004-12-03). "Closer". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2015-10-07.
  9. ^ Turan, Kenneth (2004-12-03). "Love, sadistically". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2015-10-07.
  10. ^ Scott, A. O. (2004-12-03). "When Talk Is Sexier Than a Clichéd Clinch". The New York Times. Retrieved 2015-10-07.
  11. ^ Orr, Christopher (March 2005). "The Movie Review: 'Closer'". The Atlantic. Retrieved 22 July 2016.

External links[edit]