Laws of Attraction

© 2004 Ray Wong

Right from the start, you’d notice that LAWS OF ATTRACTION is a handsome film, with its handsome stars and handsome locations and handsome sets and costumes. The opening credit reminds us of the slick screwball comedies in the 50’s and 60’s that the film is trying to emulate. Alas! Like in real life, beauty may only be skin-deep.

Audrey Woods is a single, beautiful, successful divorce lawyer who has never lost a case. That is, until Daniel Rafferty (Pierce Brosnan), a single, handsome, successful divorce lawyer, storms into town. Despite their professional rivalry, they develop an instant attraction to each other. Audrey (Julianne Moore) is high-strung, insecure and competitive. Daniel is smart, laid back and prolific. Together they make an odd couple in and out of the courtrooms (and the bedroom).

When Daniel snatches a client -- neurotic fashion designer Serena -- from under Audrey’s ambitious feet, she strikes back by representing Serena’s husband, the philandering rock star Thorne Jamison.

On an investigative trip to Ireland, they fall in love and get married -- only they do not remember doing either. The high profile case soon brings their “fake” marriage into the limelight, and they agree to keep up the appearance for the sake of their careers. “Intimacy has nothing to do with it; business is business.” Of course, things get out of hand and they let their professional competition get in the way.

Although this is far from being her best performance, Moore (THE HOURS) does a commendable job of bringing Audrey to life with her nuances and mannerisms. Brosnan (EVELYN), however, cannot shake his Bond slickness to fully take advantage of the role as Daniel. He has no shortage of charm and charisma, but he lacks the dose of complexity to make us care about the character -- he is too good to be true. The supporting cast gives us a broad spectrum of caricatures: Sheen’s (TIMELINE) rock star is all outrageousness but no depth; Posey’s (A MIGHTY WIND) Serena does nothing but scream, bite, jump or cry. Fisher (HOUSE OF SAND AND FOG) plays Audrey’s youth-obsessed mother with flare and elegancy, but the role is too insignificant. The standout is Dunn (BRUCE ALMIGHTY) as Judge Abramovitz -- her acrid characterization is ironically one of the most complex ones despite the size of the role.

The film starts off very well, effectively introducing us to the odd couple and their individual quirky personalities. Their mutual attraction is believable. Director Howitt’s (ANTITRUST) style is brisk and slick. The soundtrack is snappy and the cinematography is rich. However, the script starts to fall apart when it sends our lovebirds to Ireland, gets them drunk and marries them off. The story’s believability takes a nose dive after that. Even a screwball comedy has to ring true at a fundamental level. Their motivations and obstacles simply seem too superficial. It is all too convenient to blame everything on alcohol, coincident or bad intention. And I keep asking: Why would a successful, rich lawyer like Daniel have a decrepit law office above a grocery store in Chinatown? Details like that and flaws in the plot handicap the film’s credibility. And that’s one law you don’t want to break.

Stars: Pierce Brosnan, Julianne Moore, Michael Sheen, Parker Posey, Frances Fisher, Nora Dunn
Director: Peter Howitt
Writer: Aline Brosh McKenna
Distributor: New Line
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual content, language, drug and alcohol


Script – 5
Performance – 7
Direction – 6
Cinematography – 7
Music/Sound– 7
Editing – 6
Production – 7

Total – 6.4 out of 10

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