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The 365 Best Films of the 2000s

Heroes of the Zeroes: Closer

Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films of 2000-2009.

“Closer”
Rated R
2004

Julia Roberts is a duplicitous photographer whose promiscuity doesn’t even go unchecked by a wedding ring.

Jude Law is a callous writer so uninspired he lifts the plot for his failed novel from his jilted lover.

Natalie Portman so futilely, and continuously, throws herself back at that evil, evil man … and she’d never, ever turn out to be a stripper, right?

Clive Owen leaves not so much an impression — but an indelibly vicious purple-and-yellow shiner — with his brutally forceful performance as a devious dermatologist who’s both thin- and thick-skinned.

Bruising metaphors are perfect considering the emotional punches thrown in Mike Nichols’ brilliant 2004 adaptation of Patrick Marber’s play.

This quartet  — coupled, uncoupled and re-coupled over several years — elbowed each other in the face with disdain, clambering to the top of a sexual-supremacy pile. You watched them as you might an off-road car accident — gaping in endless fascination at the gnarled wreckage, fascinated but glad it’s not you.

The title’s irony isn’t playful, it’s savage, and the content is equally gruff — harsh, ugly discourse reminiscent of early Neil LaBute. Its elements of unpredictable sexual suspense are carefully rewarded upon multiple viewings, and Nichols slowly pulls these curtains back without ever tipping his hat to power roles.

Any of these four could be the evil one, and that’s why “Closer” is great. It casts a hard-light glow on the uncomfortable confrontations of love — not a soft-focus glow on its passions — and stuns with blunt thematic truth.

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One Response to “Heroes of the Zeroes: Closer”

  1. Adored this movie. Not only did it make me happy to be a single woman, but Natalie Portman’s hair (not the bob with bangs, but the flippy short ‘do she sported during the photo session) inspired me to chop my long locks. I’ve never looked back.