Two strangers, an obituary writer (Jude Law) and a stripper (Natalie Portman), make eye contact on a bustling London street just before she is struck by a cab. A year later, the two are living together and he is preparing for the release of a new book as he falls for the photographer (Julia Roberts) of his jacket photo. The love entanglement takes a fierce turn when a fourth party, a barbarous dermatologist (Clive Owen), is cruelly drawn in and takes pitiless revenge when he is again betrayed. Mike Nichols’ filming of Patrick Marber’s play (which he scripted for the screen himself) is a frank, harsh, and verbally explicit look at love and the ugly lengths that those involved in it go to. The acting is tremendous, especially Law (in an undervalued performance), Portman, and most unforgettably, Owen in a ferocious, darkly comical, and strangely sympathetic portrayal.
*** 1/2 out of ****