'Closer' Opening to Winces, Raves

If you thought Jude Law (search) was a lout in "Alfie," wait until you get a load of him in "Closer." (search)

When "Alfie," Law's remake about a roguish womanizer, flopped last month, Paramount blamed the dismal performance on the mood of the country, saying the conservative ethos reflected in the election results might have hurt the picture.

But "Alfie" looks like a Disney cartoon compared to "Closer," a flick about love and infidelity that could be a little too rough and tough for some viewers.

"Director Mike Nichols has talked Law, Julia Roberts (search), Clive Owen (search) and Natalie Portman (search) into doing and saying some very dicey stuff," said FOX News entertainment reporter Bill McCuddy. "In a way, it reminds me of how the late Stanley Kubrick hoodwinked Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise into making 'Eyes Wide Shut.' Trust the director? Not this time, folks."

Among the film's scandalous details, 23-year-old Portman, playing a stripper, commits some of her offenses in little more than a G-string, according to Associated Press film critic Christy Lemire.

But the film doesn't show quite as much of the "Star Wars" beauty as director Nichols had planned. Nichols' original cut featured a full-frontal shot of the actress, which she reportedly ordered him to remove.

Nichols, who has been like a second father to Portman ever since their first collaboration on an all-star production of "The Seagull," agreed that the footage was gratuitous and needed to go — much to the disappointment of male fans everywhere.

"He's as or more protective of me than my parents are," Portman has said. "So doing sexual, physical stuff for him felt very uncomfortable."

That said, the film is getting very good reviews. Lemire warns it is "the furthest thing possible from a date movie," but gives it three stars out of four, precisely for that reason.

"These inordinately beautiful people end up doing extraordinarily ugly things to one another. ... and the way they destroy each other and themselves is both brutal and breathtaking to watch," she said. "What it is, is an astute but trenchant study of the ambiguous and unknowable nature of love."

The New York Post's Andy Cocker said the role represents as much of a departure for Roberts, best known for lighter movies like "The Runaway Bride," as it does for Portman.

The Pretty Woman admitted to having a tough time with Anna, a character she found repellent and devious.

"I had a great amount of trouble with letting her be this incredibly flawed woman," Roberts told the Post. "Even at my worst moments, I look like an amateur compared to this woman."

FOXNews.com gossip columnist Roger Friedman wrote in his review that audiences are in for a treat, albeit one that's tough to take.

"Forget 'Fahrenheit 9/11' and 'The Passion of the Christ,'" Friedman wrote. "It turns out the most controversial movie of the year is Mike Nichols' film adaptation of the play 'Closer,' by Patrick Marber."

FOX News' Bill McCuddy contributed to this report.