Director: Mike Nichols
Year Released: 2004
Four people jump into each other's beds in this insipid drama (based on the popular stage play) - trouble is, script weaknesses like horrible dialogue and umpteen contrivances (everything is arranged so supremely carefully it feels like their destinies are foreshadowed by the writer - the characters change their minds just when the script needs them to) usurp two good performances and a few decent scenes. So much of it rings false I can't quite accept it as a replication of reality - at one point, Natalie Portman and Jude Law utter, "Who are those strangers? And why should we care about them," which says more about themselves and the film at large than anything else - although the 'deeper' points about sexual politics and the art of lying are compelling if underdeveloped (if I understand things correctly, the reason why the one couple works out is because they're more interested in revenge than love; they cling to barbarism instead of romanticism). Natalie Portman is miscast as the American Whore - she's too angelic to be believably naughty - and even Jude Law looks uncomfortable; it's Clive Owen (perfectly able to mutter the confrontational and sexually explicit dialogue) that kept me from realizing how truly horrible the script actually is.