A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this movie is filled with extremely adult material, with exceptionally explicit sexual references, including adultery and oral sex. There are scenes in a strip club. Characters drink, smoke, and use very strong, explicit, and graphic language. There are tense and upsetting scenes of jealousy, anger, and betrayal.
What's the story?
With an anguished wail, Larry (Clive Owen) asks where he can find intimacy. In a private room in a strip club, where the rules say that you can look, but not touch. The stripper's ex-boyfriend Dan (Jude Law) is now romantically involved with Larry's ex-wife, Anna (Julia Roberts). Does he really want intimacy or does he want revenge? Or does he just want the stripper to bend over and touch the floor? Probably all of the above. This is a searing story of hurt and betrayal with two couples who reach for each other in almost every combination. They may get, as in the movie's title CLOSER, but do they ever really get close? Larry is a dermatologist. Anna is a photographer. Alice (Natalie Portman) is a stripper turned waitress turned stripper again. And Dan is an obituary writer who has written a novel.
Is it any good?
This film is more clever than wise. Those who have been angered and betrayed by love might find it validating, but that does not make it insightful. The characters toss around the l-word a great deal, but there is no evidence that any of them even see each other, much less know or love each other. Both female characters are somewhere between a fantasy and a narrative convenience, their only function to drive the men crazy. The film's center is the relationship between the two men. Their connections with the women have more to do with the struggle between them over power and territory than with knowing or caring for Anna and Alice.
Portman is dazzling to watch. Owen and Law do well, but this is not the best use of Roberts' considerable talents; it may be that director Mike Nichols was relying more on the shock value of hearing America's sweetheart speak about oral sex in explicit terms than on her ability to convey a superficially conceived character.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what the characters were really looking for. What did playwright/screenwriter Patrick Marber want to show us with the occupations of the four characters? What do we learn from the name on Alice's passport? Were Dan and Anna using Alice by writing the novel and taking her photo?