Laws of Attraction
Julianne Moore is one of the five best dramatic actresses
working regularly in film today. She has
brought amazing depth and feeling to her roles in films like Short Cuts,
Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Vanya on 42nd Street and her acclaimed work in The
Hours (I hated
that pretentious, depressing, boring film... but Moore was
terrific in it.)
She is also one of the few serious actresses
who can pull off cheesy genre work (Hannibal, The Fugitive, Lost World: Jurassic Park
II, The Hand That Rocks the Cradle). However, she has never really been known for her light
touch. The rare occasions that she has delved into comedy have been
pretty disastrous... Nine Months, The Big Lebowski and Evolution were
all nearly unwatchable.
Laws of Attraction
is a better comedy than any of these films, but it doesn't really work
either. Honestly, much of the blame lays right at the feet of Julianne
Not that there aren't a lot of things that
just don't work in this film, but Moore's strangely frigid reading of the
female romantic lead role has to go to the top of the list. Moore plays Audrey Woods, a driven divorce
lawyer who has no place in her busy life for romance. So instead,
Audrey throws herself into her work, gorges herself on junk food (Hostess
SnoBalls are a particular favorite) and tries to rationalize her lifestyle
to her feisty mother (Frances Fisher.) She takes respite from her
loneliness in the fact that she has never lost a case. Both sides of
her life are thrown into turmoil with the appearance of Daniel Rafferty.
Rafferty is also a star divorce attorney,
who coincidentally has moved back to New York after a stint in Los Angeles.
Daniel Rafferty is handsome,
charming, funny, smart and disarmingly eccentric. (Sometimes
needlessly eccentric, despite the fact that he is one of the top divorce
attorneys in New York, he has a tiny, cluttered office in Chinatown, clearly
only because the screenwriter thought it would be quirky to put him in the
vibrant neighborhood.) He, too, has never lost a case. Even
though she denies it (even to herself), Woods is immediately drawn to the
Brosnan, who is not really known for his comic work either (though his
performances as James Bond at least gave him practice with a pithy line) is
nearly perfect in the role. He nails Rafferty in a way that Moore
doesn't come close to.
Everyone in the world besides Audrey
realizes that the two of them are meant to be together, but she still
irrationally fights off her urges. She refuses to give Rafferty an
inch and treats him harshly.
Honestly, we never know what it is that Daniel sees in Audrey. She is
uptight, manipulative, insecure, obsessively competitive, casually cruel and
nearly incapable of expressing a real emotion. However he does find
Audrey intriguing, and after an impulsive (and drunken) one night stand he
tries to manufacture opportunities to spend time with her.
that it is that hard. Their courtroom battles become legendary
in the New York press (really, I've never known that there was that much ink
spent on high profile break-ups.) Their waltz around their own urges
comes to a crescendo when they are handling the divorce of a decadent rock
star (Michael Sheen) and his angry fashion designer wife (Parker Posey.)
These characters are worse than stereotypes, they are truly unbelievable as
characters. I'm particularly disappointed in Posey, who was a very
respected indie actress before she gave in to the big money offered playing
stupid supporting roles in movies like this and Josie and the Pussycats
and You've Got Mail.
two clients only insist on keeping one thing, an ancient castle they owned
in Ireland. So the two lawyers fly separately to Ireland to see the
castle and interview the staff. (Are they getting billable hours for
this?) This leads to some unlikely fish out of water humor for the two
of them. Audrey can't rent a car because they are closed on Tuesdays,
despite the fact that a no-nonsense lawyer like her would never leave it up
to chance to find an auto when she got there. Daniel apparently has
forgotten how a security brake works. The two end up having to walk to
the castle, bickering and flirting all the way. They find the castle
and are charmed. At a local festival Audrey starts to loosen up again,
and after a drunken night they wake up married.
of course opens up lots of crazy complications that would never happen in
the real world. Word leaks out that they are married. Audrey
decides they have to pretend to be a happy couple so that their careers
won't be ruined (no, I didn't follow that logic, either...) Rafferty,
on the other hand, likes the idea of actually being a happy couple. So
he moves into her apartment, where she promptly puts a lock on her door...
which makes no sense whatsoever. Even if she didn't love him, which of
course she does, did she expect him to break into her room? They live
the lie, become friends, laugh, fight, break-up, and finally acknowledge
they love each other. All done in predictable classic romantic sitcom
style. No one ever doubts how the film will end, and the movie does
not disappoint with it's by-the-book finale.
possible problem with this film is that a
similar storyline was done much better and more surprisingly last year with Intolerable
Cruelty. But even though Laws of Attraction is not a very
good film, I do have to admit I did for the most part enjoy it as a light
distraction. As for Julianne Moore, I think she better go back to what
she's good at.
Copyright ©2004 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved.
Posted: May 30, 2004.