Follow TV Tropes


Film / Closer

Go To

"Have you ever seen the human heart? It looks like a fist, soaked in blood."

Closer is a 2004 American drama film based on the 1997 play of the same name by English playwright Patrick Marber, directed by Mike Nichols and starring Julia Roberts, Jude Law, Natalie Portman, and Clive Owen.

Basically, it's a romantic drama set in contemporary London, about two opposing sets of couples—Dan Woolf (Law) and Alice Ayres (Portman), and Larry Gray (Owen) and Anna Cameron (Roberts)—and their various betrayals, infidelities and heartbreaks in a classic love square. It's much better than it sounds, although its most well-known scene is arguably the one where Alice is working at a strip club.

Owen and Portman were nominated for Academy Awards and won Golden Globe Awards for their performances, with Owen also snagging a BAFTA Award.


  • Adaptation Distillation: Patrick Marber adapted the screenplay from his own play, trimming off a lot of the narrative fat in the process. For instance, Alice was already a stripper in the play but her film counterpart only becomes one after Dan breaks up with her due to his affair with Anna. Pity about the ending, though...
  • Alliterative Name: Alice Ayres/Jane Jones
  • Bedroom Adultery Scene: When Dan and Anna confess to their affair, they each admit to their respective partners that they have had trysts in their home.
  • Betty and Veronica Switch: Both men have the choice between the wise, steady photographer Anna and the vivacious, flirtatious 'waif' Alice, but it's flipped around in that Anna is the one who can't remain faithful to either of her lovers, while Alice is committed to Dan.
  • Between My Legs: In Alice's scene in the club, while she's putting on her outfit.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Heavy on the bitter. Dan and Alice break off their relationship and she's been lying about her name the entire time, Anna is still unhappily married to Larry, and Alice returns to New York alone but free of the relationship drama.
  • Bookends: The movie opens with Alice walking down a London street to "The Blower's Daughter," and ends with her walking through New York's Times Square at the end.
  • Brutal Honesty: Everyone at one point or another, but Larry almost all the time.
  • Cassandra Truth: "My name is Jane", Alice's repeated response to Larry's query as to her real name. He thinks that she's insisting on sticking to her stripper persona.
  • Country Matters: Larry plainly and forwardly asks Alice what her cunt tastes like. She replies "heaven." The word is also occasionally tossed around as an insult.
  • Crapsack World: Everyone in this movie has varying levels of unhappiness with their love life (and for Dan and Alice, professionally, as well), and ends with an uneasy closure on that same note.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Everyone, pretty much. It's that kind of script.
  • Downer Ending: The original play's ending. Alice dies. Averted in the film adaptation, which has Alice survive and go back to America.
  • Empathic Environment: Dreary, gray London seems to coincide with most of the character's situations. In particular, the pouring rain when Dan shows up at Larry's office to tearfully beg him to let Anna come back to him. And bright, sunny New York mirroring Alice's fresh start.
  • Fanservice: The strip club scene.
  • G.I.R.L.: The spark that sets Larry and Anna's relationship is Dan masquerading as Anna in a cybersex chat room.
  • A Good Name for a Song: Panic! at the Disco and Fall Out Boy both took inspiration from the film: The songs "Lying is the Most Fun a Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off" and "But It's Better If You Do" form a quote from the aforementioned stripping scene. The line "He tastes like you, only sweeter" in "Thnks fr th Mmrs" is, in the film, Anna's response to Larry's question of what Dan's ejaculate tastes like. The line "I love everything about you that hurts" in G.I.N.A.S.F.S is taken from the aforementioned pink wigged stripper scene.
  • Head-Turning Beauty: Alice Or Jane, rather, literally, in her final scene, as she elicits this reaction from every man she passes as she walks down the street.
  • Hypocrite: Dan, in spades. First, he's stunned to learn that Anna slept with Larry again. Apparently, it's okay for Anna to cheat with him, but not on him. He can't get over it and it's implied that this contributed to Anna leaving him. Then, he's equally floored when Larry reveals that he and Alice slept together and can't get over that either, causing their reconciliation to fail. This after breaking Alice's heart by emotionally cheating on her for a year (during which he was essentially stalking Anna), physically cheating on her for another year, and only getting back together with her after Anna dumped him (meaning she's clearly nothing more than his second choice) but he can't accept that she slept with someone else (Anna's cuckolded husband, no less) during a time when they were not together.
    • Larry, too. Not two seconds after admitting to having cheated on Anna with a prostitute, he's flipping out when she admits to her affair with Dan.
  • Informed Attractiveness: Alice's final scene, in which nearly every man she passes as walks down the street is awestruck at the sight of her.
  • Jerkass: The four main characters have all their moments of jerkassery, particularly Larry. Alice / Jane on the other hand has a couple of Jerk with a Heart of Gold moments.
  • Line-of-Sight Name: Alice Ayres, real name Jane Jones takes her name after a person commemorated in real life in Postman's Park.
  • Love Makes You Crazy: And evil, and bloody stupid...
    "Have you ever seen the human heart? It looks like a fist soaked in blood."
  • Love Triangle: Repeatedly.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Alice tries very hard to be one of these.
  • Minimalist Cast: There are only four main characters in the film: Alice, Anna, Dan, and Larry.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Alice Ayres/ Jane Jones, especially when she's working at a strip club.
  • Nonconformist Dyed Hair: Compulsive liar Alice has naturally brown hair, but she wears a pink wig while stripping, and is shown at the end of the movie - after she leaves London and appears to start again - with bright red hair.
  • Noodle Incident: Anna alludes to an abusive relationship in her past, but no other details are given.
  • Only Sane Man: Alice. She has enough common sense to leave Dan the minute he admits to his infidelity, rebuffing his lame excuses, to reject Larry (initially), knowing full well that they'd only be seeking pointless revenge against their cheating exes, to dump Dan for good when she realizes their reconciliation won't work, and to finally go home to escape the crazy, unhappy situation and make a fresh start.
  • Pink Is Erotic: Alice uses a pink wig and makeup for one of her stripper outfits.
  • Sarcastic Confession: Larry demands that Alice tell him her real name, Alice only gives him the obviously fake name "Jane Jones." (But as we learn, that is in fact her real name.)
  • Scarpia Ultimatum: Larry demands sex from Anna in exchange for signing their divorce papers.
  • Scenery Censor: When Larry asks Alice to show him her vulva, his head conveniently obscures it from the audience's view. (And not-so-subtly makes it appear as if he's performing oral sex on her).
  • Seduction as One-Upmanship: During a confrontation, Larry explicitly tells Dan that he extorted sex from Anna specifically to "fuck with you", wanting Dan to experience the pain he felt. Now that Anna has returned to Larry, Larry suggests that Dan reconcile with Alice. Just as Dan agrees and goes to leave, Larry can't resist informing him that he slept with Alice as well.
  • Sexy Discretion Shot: Despite her skimpy outfit in the strip club scene, Alice's moments of true nudity occur out of our line of sight.
  • Shower of Angst: Suggested by Larry when Anna admits to her affair with Dan—that she did it not only to get his scent off of her, but the guilt.
  • Slut-Shaming: Anna indicates that Larry treats her like a whore in bed. He sarcastically snarls, "I wonder why?", essentially telling her that she is one, then tops off their argument by calling her a "fucked up slag".
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Alice survives the events of the film and goes back to America. In the original play, she was outright dead.
  • Spiritual Successor: To Nichols' previous film Carnal Knowledge, which was also a frank depiction of sex and misogyny (although in this film, the women's roles are more substantial).
  • Stalking Is Love: Dan tries this with Anna, for a whole year. It works.
  • Sympathetic Adulterer: Played with. While no one's cheating is made out to be okay, they aren't vilified for it either.
  • Time Skip: Frequently, and only revealed by the characters' dialogue.
  • Wham Line: Plenty, usually revealing a character's adultery.
  • Wham Shot: The plaque with the name Alice Ayres. Cue Dan's stunned look as he realizes he has no idea who he was dating for four years.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Anna mentions having been hit in a previous relationship and Dan slaps Alice after she spits on him, officially putting the nail in the coffin of their relationship.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Larry suspects that Anna's behavior is because she doesn't feel that she deserves to be loved, but he emphatically tells her, "You do!"