Helen Hunt plays Cheryl fully naked a lot of the time, and with a lack of self-consciousness that O'Brien finds alarming to begin with.
Apart from his lack of experience, he is a devoted Catholic with a guilt complex and seeks guidance from Father Brendan (William H Macy).
Law plays Dan, who writes obituaries for his London newspaper; Portman is Alice, an American who says she was a stripper and fled New York to end a relationship; Roberts is Anna, an American photographer; and Owen is Larry, a dermatologist.
The characters connect in a series of Meet Cutes that are perhaps no more contrived than in real life.
It is inevitable in part because Hunt and Hawkes spark so well off each other and there is tenderness between mechanical manoeuvres.
Cheryl records her own observations for psychological research, yet she could just as easily be a subject for study.In the opening sequence, the eyes of Alice and Dan (Natalie Portman and Jude Law) meet as they approach each other on a London street.Eye contact leads to an amused flirtation, and then Alice, distracted, steps into the path of a taxicab.All four are smart and ferociously articulate, adept at seeming forthright and sincere even in their most shameless deceptions."The truth," one says."Without it, we're animals." Actually, truth causes them more trouble than it saves, because they seem compelled to be most truthful about the ways in which they have been untruthful.