In Laws of Attraction, Pierce Brosnan is the new lawyer in town, and he breaks Julianne Moore’s perfect record in winning divorce cases. When they find themselves representing a split-up rock star and fashion designer (Parker Posey has a lot of fun with this role), they wind up going to Ireland, getting drunk, and getting hitched. Ads pushed the “how they fall in love after they get married” screwball angle, but since they don’t wed until an hour into the 90-minute movie, that’s not completely accurate.
Which is a shame, since it’s the best part of the movie. That action brings them back to New York and puts Frances Fisher in a lot more scenes. She plays Moore’s “call me your sister” mom, and she’s the best thing in the picture. She needed more scenes and lines. There’s only one real chance for Brosnan and Fisher to play off each other, and it demonstrates what the film could have been. Nora Dunn, as the judge they wind up in front up frequently, is also good.
This movie is as close as we get to screwball these days, but it doesn’t nearly approach the energy or glamour or charm of those classic films, although it does have some wit to it. I particularly liked the scene (seen in the trailer) where they wake up in bed together with wedding rings on. She’s up first, and she tells him to look at his hand. He does, says “Oh, will you look at that.”, looks at her, and says “Oh, you have one too.” That was funny.
Unfortunately, Moore is too down-to-earth and staid for this. She makes the attorney’s secret eating sort of sad instead of humorous, for instance, and she brings too much weight to what should be throwaway or even clichéd scenes. Odd as it is to say it, she’s not fluffy enough. In a movie like this, I should want to be her, but she too often seems pathetic instead of flawed or understandable. The filmmakers spoke about how they wanted an actress with depth and intelligence, an admirable pursuit, but they may have erred in going too far in that direction, given the material.
In Remington Steele, we were asked to believe that this talented, beautiful, accomplished, globe-trotting man would fall without question for a plain, buttoned-down woman clearly not in his league. The same thing happens here, and at times, I find myself breaking the fantasy to wonder “what keeps him hanging around? What is he seeing in her?” The film would have been stronger with more believable demonstrations of the reason for the attraction.
There are some small glimpses of what could have been shown, as when she goes to pretend apologize and rachets up her game to make some sparks with him. (Plus, he takes his shirt off in that scene.) There’s also the problem of all of his “flaws” quickly being seen as not really problems. He seems lazy, but he’s really an overachiever. He seems flighty, but he’s really moving around because he’s looking for new challenges. He seems sloppy, but he’s really a gourmet cook.
I’ve been very critical above, but all that said, I enjoyed watching this because it’s one of the few recent Pierce Brosnan movies where he’s attractive and romantic instead of grim or scary. I also liked the message, that marriages need to be worked at and are more rewarding if you don’t take the easy way out. I got the DVD used for $3.50, and at that price, it’s worth it. It was good enough for me to watch twice within the period of two weeks, anyway. The official movie site is still up.