Film

Don’t mess with exes

Pierce Brosnan and Julianne Moore mix love and divorce in amiable Laws of Attraction

Romantic comedies should be funny. Ideally, they should be hilarious. Failing
that, they must at least have some kind of believable chemistry between the
romantic leads. With Laws of Attraction, the new romantic comedy gluing
Julianne Moore to Pierce Brosnan, we have the latter but not the former, a
movie that’s fun but not funny, that supplies not a lot of laughs but
plenty of warm smiles and pulses of enjoyment watching the two stars bounce
off each other. Laws of Attraction is a love story set in the world of
divorce law, a theme we saw most recently (and handled better) in last
year’s Intolerable Cruelty. Laws lacks Cruelty’s teeth and taste
for meat, preferring instead to lean on likable rumpledness and silliness.
Julianne Moore is, as always, great. She has such an adult, responsible look
about her—beautiful but not girlish—yet she punches away from
expectations with roles like the pornstar/mom figure in Boogie Nights or the
screaming-for-my-pills wife in Magnolia. In Laws of Attraction she’s
Audrey Miller, a sharp, solid, by-the-book legal hotshot—or at least
that’s what we’re told he is, and certainly Pierce is always
right in there talking her up. As far as we can tell, she’s a nervous
goofy flake, fending off pre-trial panic attacks by gobbling donuts in the
can and forgetting to wipe her mouth, tripping over things and losing her
panties and generally taking the whole movie to figure out that she’s
in love with Pierce Brosnan. For his part, Brosnan rumples his suave nicely,
ambling through the movie with a roguish just-woke-up look and easy
confidence. Maybe a little too easy; it’s fairly obvious early on that
he’s always three steps ahead of her on everything, which tends to cut
down on the give-and-take of good romance. “There’s no
psychoanalytical shortcut into my pants!” she feistily insists while
gulping down the drinks that Brosnan has easily identified as the correct
shortcut into her pants; later on, she can’t get a car and ends up
dragging her luggage down the Irish road as Brosnan inevitably zooms up from
behind to offer her a ride. In this context the cutesy plot twist—after
a night of Irish revelry, they accidentally end up married—fits right
in as Brosnan, who knows he loves her, patiently waits out her confused
skittish qualms. Now we’re married; you wanna pretend you don’t
like it? Go right ahead; I’ll be right over here being your awesome
husband. Eventually you’ll figure it out. It’s pretty loose, Laws
of Attraction, with some rather strained plot contrivances such as super-able
divorce lawyers never bothering to check up on the most basic elements of
their supposed drunken marriage. Certainly the film never shies away from
overusing montages to shortcut actual plot points, skipping several. Laws of
Attraction doesn’t work too hard, and as I say, it’s not exactly
crammed with jokes. In romantic comedies you usually look to the secondary
characters to provide the laughs, but Laws of Attraction doesn’t have
as much going on there as it should. We do get 52-year-old Frances Fisher
(Kate Winslet’s mom in Titanic) looking super-hot as Moore’s mom
but frankly we don’t get enough of her, and Parker Posey and some guy
named Michael (not Martin) Sheen mostly fade into the background as a spoiled
fashion-designer/rockstar couple whose divorce provides the arena for Brosnan
and Moore’s hijinks. Brosnan is confident, Moore is flustered, and
eventually they learn to love each other. Not bad, though if you’re
interested in seeing divorce lawyers tearing through love and marriage with
real gusto and wit, you’re better off grabbing Intolerable Cruelty on
DVD, and if you’re just looking for a date movie with nice romantic
“aw” moments, you’re actually way better off with Hellboy.
V Laws of Attraction Directed by Peter Howitt • Written by Aline Brosh
McKenna and Robert Harling • Starring Julianne Moore and Pierce Brosnan
• Opens Fri, Apr 30

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