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May 2004

By Julian Roman

Laws of Attraction
Distributor: New Line Cinema
Director: Peter Howitt
Producers: Julie Durk, David T. Friendly, Beau St. Clair, Marc Turtletaub
Screenwriters: Aline Brosh McKenna and Robert Harling
Cinematographer: Adrian Biddle
Composer: Ed Shearmur
Cast: Pierce Brosnan, Julianne Moore, Parker Posey, Michael Sheen, Frances Fisher, Nora Dunn


Pierce Brosnan and Julianne Moore are attractive actors that have great screen chemistry together. Unfortunately, that doesn't save Laws of Attractions from being an average at best romantic comedy. The problem is that the film never deviates from the formula. It's the same contrived plot Hollywood has been rehashing for years. Opposites attract, fall in love, have a moment where they could possible break-up; then get married in a marshmallow sweet happy ending. The film does have its funny moments and the characters make the most of them. I just wish there were more substance and risk to the story. The principle actors are very talented, two of the best. They deserve a better plot for their romantic escapades.

Julianne Moore plays Manhattan divorce attorney Audrey Miller. She's never lost a case, is prim and proper, and lives in the shadow of her wild, youth-obsessed mother, Sara (played wonderfully by Frances Fisher). Audrey's world is thrown into chaos when she finds herself in court against Daniel Rafferty (Pierce Brosnan). Rafferty is a charming rogue and lout, also undefeated, and is instantly attracted to Audrey. The pair embarks on a tumultuous affair that takes place over several cases. Finally coming to a head when they get married in a drunken stupor in Ireland. Their marriage becomes public and they're forced to live together to save their professional image.

The characters are the saving grace of this film. Pierce Brosnan plays Rafferty as a man that is totally in love with Audrey. There's never a moment where his true feelings for her aren't shown. Female audiences will eat this up. The idea of the thrice-voted world's sexiest man smitten will have them squirming in their seats. Pierce makes it work, even in the ridiculously contrived situations they find themselves in, and that's not easy. Julianne Moore is perfect as Audrey. She's a perfectionist, stuck in a rigid world, waiting for Rafferty to steal her heart. Julianne looks fantastic in the movie. She's a beautiful woman, there's no doubt about that, but this is the first film I've seen where the camera really worships her. Kudos to the costume designer for pulling off the lawyer-look, but making it sexy. Frances Fisher steals the movie as Sara, Audrey's mother. Audrey's character is her extreme opposite. Sara is an exuberant, carefree woman that lives for the moment, but loves her daughter and values her happiness more than anything else. Their relationship as mother and daughter is the most engaging of the film. They're very different, but have a deep love and affection for each other. I think you could have made a better film using them as the premise.

Laws of Attraction will resonate with an audience that's looking for romance. There's never an attempt to put the characters in serious jeopardy and people want to see that. They want to know that everything will work out and everyone will live happily ever after. Peter Howitt (the director) re-shot the ending because audiences in test screenings wanted to definitely see them together. There couldn't be any ambiguity or imagination with the fate of Audrey and Daniel. I suppose my criticisms are based on the story's predictability, but that's what the demographic wants to see. Hollywood films are made to make money and they need to deliver the goods to their audience. Laws of Attraction does just that and nothing more.