Starring: Julia Roberts, Jude Law, Natalie Portman, Clive Owen Director: Mike Nichols Category: IIB Mike Nichols is a dab hand at transferring theatre to the big screen, starting with Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? in 1966 and barely stopping to catch his breath ever since. He does his best with Closer, an adaptation of the Patrick Marber play, giving us four disparate characters in a sort of voice box-style production that no doubt has its roots in the likes of sex, lies and videotape. He's brought together four talented actors and given them roles that turn their public personas on their heads. The film's downfall, however - like Steven Soderbergh's before it - is that, on reflection, it isn't half as smart or interesting as we've been led to believe. Sometimes, it's simply uncomfortable. Sex and the City showed that having a few good-looking heads talking about sex and bodily fluids can take all the emotion out of the most human of endeavours. And like that show, Closer starts off as an interesting exercise but soon becomes a chore. Julia Roberts talks about blow jobs. Natalie Portman does a pole dance and Jude Law and Clive Owen show rather nasty sides of the male condition. And that's about as far as we go. Controversial? Not really. Interesting? You hear more interesting things at the pub - if you listen hard enough. Richard Linklater showed us in Before Sunrise and Before Sunset that 'real' conversations on film can be enlightening and entertaining. And they can also dispense with pretentiousness. With Closer, Nichols gives us something along similar lines - except that you'll squirm in your seat and probably feel a bit sweaty. Closer opens today.