Posted by Aaron West, 5/3/04
Laws of Attraction
Directed by Peter Howitt
Starring Pierce Brosnan, Julianne Moore, Parker Posey
Running Time: 89 minutes
Don't let the title fool you. This is not some bad Easton Ellis adaptation. There is no hipster from 90210, Felicity, or Dawson's Creek. This is no Friedkin failure about a military trial. There is no angst, there is no army. This is just a poorly named romantic comedy that lives up to its name in the most painful ways imaginable. Oh, and brought to you by the director of Johnny English, a fact the distributor must have accidentally omitted from the movie poster.
Julianne Moore and Pierce Brosnan play two of the top divorce lawyers in New York. Daniel Rafferty (Brosnan) is the haggard, spiritually and psychologically adjusted, slacker lawyer whose zen approach to the law is extremely effective and he has the undefeated record to prove it. Audrey Woods (Moore) is the uptight, neurotic, sugar fiend lawyer who wins simply by outworking her opponent. They find themselves on opposite sides of the courtroom often, working the high profile, big money cases. Guess what, they are both single and there is a subtle, magnetic attraction between them. Looks like we got a movie folks!
Brosnan makes no secret about his intentions and directly pursues his reluctant redhead adversary. Too bad Moore has her head way up her (expletive deleted) twinkies and ding-dongs that she hardly even notices. Can you see where this is going? Good, because so can everyone else in the theater after the 5-minute mark.
Parker Posey stars as Serena, the hottest fashion designer, who marries the most popular rock star, only to tire of his decadent lifestyle and seek a divorce. How convenient that the two top lawyers in New York both have opposing styles that fit each side's personality.
If you've read this far, you probably realize how silly this premise is. Luckily good acting can make up for bad writing, can't it? Julianne Moore is typically a stunning actress, on the shortlist of the best working directors. She isn't horrible here, but she doesn't exactly have much to work with. Her character traits include a zeal for snowballs (the plastic-wrapped sugar snack, not the expensive illegal substance, or the .. ball of snow), and she happens to watch the weather channel in her freetime, even though she forgets her umbrella when she knows its going to rain. It's really too bad that Moore, or any talented actress for that matter, wound up in a role like this. She has nobody to blame other than herself, or perhaps her scriptreader.
Parker Posey, another one of Hollywood's more talented actresses, has a little more to work with, and she does bring some charm and desperately needed quirkiness to the role. She also happens to have the least screen time of all the primary cast, and her part is almost irrelevent thematically and narratively.
As if the story wasn't bad enough, the filmmakers have the gall to place the top divorce lawyers in the Society pages. Yes, you heard right. And more than once, and what's worse, is this is used as a plot mechanism. They also allow the leading lady to shoplift in plain sight, and return to the same store another day without anyone saying a word. Not only is the film's premise bland and implausible, but we have to deal with these idiotic screenwriting decisions.
Yes, they really do think you're that dumb. Don't give them your $8.