Purporting to deliver the straight goods on modern sexual interactions, Closer is glossier than last summer’s similarly themed We Don’t Live Here Anymore, and it has a more impressive pedigree—an award-winning director (Mike Nichols), a highly acclaimed British stage play (by Patrick Marber) for its source, and a glamorous cast: Julia Roberts, Clive Owen, Jude Law and Natalie Portman. It has Oscar nominations written all over it. But it contains barely a convincing moment.
Roberts plays an American photographer living in London who shoots the book-jacket picture for Law’s first novel; he makes a play for her, but when she learns he has a live-in girl friend (Portman), she resists her attraction to him. She winds up with Owen’s character instead, but the night her gallery show opens, she and the novelist initiate an affair that eventually devastates both their households. (In We Don’t Live Here Anymore, the two couples swap partners.)