Laws of Attraction
January 20, 2007

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.

Laws of Attraction cover
Laws of Attraction
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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.

6 Responses  
Ian Brill writes:  

This film sort of sounds like Intolerable Cruelty. It’s not the best Coen Bros. film but it’s get some elements of classic screwball romantic comedies.

Johanna writes:  

That was the one with George Clooney and Catherine Zeta-Jones, right? I couldn’t make it all the way through that one — they just all seemed so unpleasant. Knowing it’s by the Coen Bros. explains that.

Chris Galdieri writes:  

One of the stranger things about Laws of Attraction was how watching the Weather Channel was an indicator that a character was an uptight stuffed shirt who needed to relax and loosen up. I’m still scratching my head about that one.

Still, I enjoy Julianne Moore’s comedies because she’s so ill-suited for comedy. There’s something charming and endearing about the attempts.

Johanna writes:  

I think the Weather Channel was meant to be a sign that she wanted to predict and control things that couldn’t be controlled.

What other Moore comedies have you enjoyed?

Mike Chary writes:  

Julianne Moore is one of the most beautiful women in the world. I’m not saying that because I happen to find her attractive. I’m saying that because major fashion magazines and cosmetics companies pay her lots of money to pimp their products despite the fact that a) she’s over forty, b) not a model except after she became well-known as an actress (she’s too short for one thing) and c) she’s not really that big a star.

Remington Steele, well, Stephanie Zimbalist was very pretty, but I thought the relationshiop was more an issue of her personality and intelligence attracting Steele, who was an inveterate con man and thief, rather than some animal attraction on his part, whereas she thought he was hot, hot, hot.

Chris G. writes:  

I am the only person in the world who will admit to having enjoyed the perfectly harmless and forgettable “Evolution.”

Moore also had a strange cameo in The Ladies’ Man movie, which was one of the more awful and ambitious SNL character movies I’ve ever watched when I was home sick and lacked the energy to change the channel.


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