Laws of Attraction

When somebody goes to see a movie like Laws of Attraction, they are not expecting to see something new and original. By its very definition, this film is the ultimate in derivative movies; every turn of the plot is choreographed to a dance that everybody knows (and presumably enjoys) well. Two people hate each other so much that despite their differences, they fall deeply in love. One is an uptight freak who needs to control every aspect of life, the other is the complete opposite, a slacker who seems to do everything on the spur of the moment. Typically, the only thing that differentiates these films is the occupation of its characters. Laws of Attraction hinges on the chemistry between the leads, Julianne Moore and Pierce Brosnan, who both play high-flying New York divorce attorneys.

Moore (The Hours, Far From Heaven) is Audrey Woods, a vicious but honorable legalist, with a perfect record on big cases. She takes an instant disliking to Daniel Rafferty (Brosnan, Die Another Day, Evelyn), the seemingly inept newcomer. Her intense emotions grow when he beats her, and they clash again and again in court. It's obvious to everybody , especially Audrey's mother Sara (Frances Fisher, House of Sand and Fog, Blue Car) that the two are a great match, but Audrey refuses to even entertain the notion. Then comes the 'big case' where something must happen. Audrey and Daniel find themselves on opposing sides of a very high profile case. Rock star Thorne Jamison (Michael Sheen, Timeline, Underworld) and his wife fashion designer Serena (Parker Posey, A Mighty Wind, The Event) are bitterly separating, and it comes down to who will take ownership of a castle in Ireland.

One of the reasons that Laws of Attraction doesn't do much better is that screenwriters Aline Brosh McKenna (Three to Tango) and Robert Harling (The Evening Star, The First Wives Club) takes so long to get moving. The catch here is that while in Ireland, the two get married. Now, they need to pretend to be married for the duration of the case, or else face the end of their careers. And they'll somehow truly fall in love along the way. This wedding happens so far into the film that by that time, most people are bored with the faux bickering between the two. The chemistry that director Peter Howitt (Johnny English, AntiTrust) wants is simply not there. Brosnan has the easy role. He gets to play a suave man. It's like he took his Bond role, took away the gadgets, and wrinkled his clothes.

The unlucky role goes to Moore, who overplays her role to the point of annoyance. It's not Moore, it's the script, which calls for Audrey to be so extreme that she isn't a real person, she is a caricature. The fact that she loosens up around Daniel makes her personality seem all the more artificial. Which leaves the viewer to sit through lots of petty bickering between the two that substitutes for flirting. It's such a shame too, since Moore is capable of so much better. So while Daniel and Audrey battle for their clients and their respective hearts, the viewer battles with something that very familiar yet not that interesting. Watching something familiar is not necessarily bad, but Howitt doesn't do anything to distinguish it from all the other similar movies out there.

Haro Rates It: Not That Good.
1 hour, 30 minutes, Rated PG-13 for sexual content and language.

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