Laws of Attraction is the kind of film you might mistake for "cute" or "charming" at first glance. Maybe you will open the paper and spot the ad with Pierce Brosnan and Julianne Moore canoodling and think to yourself how nice it would be to see James Bond defrosting indie film's go-to ice queen in a romantic comedy. Or maybe you will see the TV ad or the coming-attractions trailer and think to yourself, if you're over the age of 45, "Gosh, they haven't made 'em like that since Hepburn and Tracy were alive." Two beautiful people playing divorce attorneys on opposite sides of a case, bickering and bantering, guzzling booze and sucking face, falling in bed and in love, realizing their relationship is bad for business, but dagnabit, who cares anyway -- it's the stuff of classic screwball romance, you'll tell yourself, a candidate for Turner Classic Movies enshrinement in the near future. You will, of course, be wrong.
Every so often, a movie comes along that offers so much of so little that you're left wondering why anyone bothered writing it, much less financing it, casting it, and releasing it. Nothing about Laws of Attraction is remotely original; even its title has the dull ring of the generic, like Opposites Attract or He Said, She Said. See it or don't. You will never notice the difference.
Laws of Attraction is a straight line without a single left turn; sitting there, watching A give way to B give way to C and so on, you will swear you wrote it, because you're so far ahead of the story you're already out the door, in your car, and tucked in bed before the second act.
Director Peter Howitt manages to absolutely waste a cast that could transform tripe into a five-course meal. Seeing Brosnan all tousled and disheveled made me want to marry him; you have to possess some kind of otherworldly charm to survive as many direct-to-airplane movies as he did before landing the role of Bond. But he's stuck with a moribund role as Daniel Rafferty, the smarter-than-he-looks divorce attorney who genuinely believes his clients are cowards who won't fight through the rough patches.
Moore is seldom bad in anything, even those movies in which she's been miscast. But her Audrey Woods is one of those doggedly single women who appear in movies about doggedly single women who refuse to accept romance and love and marriage and blahblahblah; she's given nothing but the archetype and asked to fill in the blank, which she does with more blanks. Never has Moore looked less comfortable in a movie.
Also wasted is Parker Posey as Serena, an aspiring Vivienne Westwood-styled fashion designer married to a philandering punk rocker (Michael Sheen, whose character is more 1984 than 2004) from whom she wants a divorce. With her streaked hair and pinched voice, Posey's given little to do but bark and bitch; finally, her role seems more cameo than character, to the point of being reduced to an extra in a couple of clumsily edited montage sequences. But most disquieting is the casting of Frances Fisher as Moore's mother, Sara, who's a plastic-surgery-punk-rock-and-leather-pants fetishist constantly sporting surgically bruised eyes. Fisher's a mere eight years older than Moore and looks almost the same age; God knows what it's supposed to suggest about these women that one refuses to fall in love and the other apparently had a child while in elementary school. The flaws of distraction, let's just say.
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