Closer: a movie about truth & relationships, its ending explained


Closer is a 2004 romantic drama movie about two couples and how their relationships overlap throughout time. Let’s see what the ending is about.

The article contains spoilers.

Love at first sight in London

The movie starts with two strangers walking and as the come to cross the road, the girl (Natalie Portman) is hit by a cab driver and sustains some injuries. The guy (Jude Law) comes to help her and she acknowledges him as “Hello, stranger”.

The guy is Daniel Woolf, an obituary writer with aspirations to become a novelist. They both go wander around the town, coming to Postman’s Park where names of people who saved others are written. The girl tells him her name- Alice Ayres, a stripper from New York.

A year later and Daniel’s new interest

Daniel getting photographed for his book. The photographer, Anna tells him she’s read his manuscript and suggests a title “The Aquarium” for the book based on Alice’s life.

Daniel starts feeling for Anna and they both kiss before it’s time for Alice (now a waitress) to come meet him. They’ve been together for a year and Dan is telling Anna that he wants to see him. Alice asks Anna to take her shots and reveals, with tears in her eyes, that she overheard them.

Another year passes, with Anna still on Dan’s mind

Dan is in a cybersex room where he pretends to be Anna with Larry, a dermatologist. They plan to meet at an aquarium, the one where Anna frequents. Larry goes and meets the real Anna who tells him that he’d been pranked- probably by Dan. They hit it off and start a relationship.

Months later at Anna’s exhibition, Dan tells her that he loves her. Anna tells him she’s with Larry now- hearing which Dan is shocked. Larry and Alice meet and talk too while looking at Alice’s tear-eyed portrait.

Heartbreak and infidelity

A year later, Dan confesses to Alice that he’s in an affair with Anna since the exhibit. Alice leaves him and disappears. On the other hand, we find out that Larry and Anna had married and she too comes clean about the affair to him.

Alice, heartbroken, becomes a stripper and Larry is broken and sad. One day he sees her at the club and asks her name to which she replies Jane Jones. Later, he begs Anna to meet him once while she’s in a relationship with Dan. She eventually agrees for the sake of getting the divorce papers signed.

But Larry proposes she sleeps with him one last time post which he’ll leave them alone. Anna reluctantly agrees. That evening she meets Dan and he finds out she slept with Larry, unable to forgive her. He knows Larry did it on purpose to revenge.

A shuffle of relationships again

One day, Dan goes to meet Larry and breaks down. Anna and Larry are together, she never filed the divorce. Larry gives Dan the place of Alice’s work and tells him he slept with her too. They meet and restart their relationship. It’s the 4th year and they reminiscent on their meeting.

In a hotel room with plans to go to USA for vacation, Dan asks her about Larry. She refuses to answer but Dan begs for the truth. Eventually, unable to lie, Alice confesses she doesn’t love him, and then tells him she slept with Larry. Dan slaps her at the end of the scene when she says it’s over.

The climactic ending explained

In the end, we see Alice in the US customs. Her passport has the name Jane Rachel Jones. On the other hand, while walking through the park where they strolled, Dan sees the name Alice Ayres on one of the tiles. The last scene similar to the first, Alice- or Jane- is walking through New York- alone this time.

It seems like Jane had been lying about her identity for all 4 years she was with Dan while telling the truth to Larry. The movie conveys that we don’t know whether knowing the truth with actually bring couples closer- in this movie the opposite happened, and that we don’t know whether the person we’re with is truthful or not.

Talking to IGN, actor Jude Law says, “What you underestimate is what you don’t see. It’s a condensed version of four years in these people lives… It’s an amalgamation of the high points and the dramas of life.”