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LAWS OF ATTRACTION

Review by Michael Jacobson

Stars:  Pierce Brosnan, Julianne Moore, Parker Posey, Michael Sheen, Nora Dunn, Frances Fischer
Director:  Peter Howitt
Audio:  Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Stereo
Video:  Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1, Pan & Scan 1.33:1
Studio:  New Line Cinema
Features:  6 Deleted Scenes/Alternate Ending, 2 Trailers
Length:  90 Minutes
Release Date:  August 24, 2004

“You’re adorable when you’re going in for the kill.”

Film **

Can New York’s top two divorce attorneys find love with one another?  It’s an appealing premise for a romantic comedy.  Add to the premise two wonderful stars like Pierce Brosnan and Julianne Moore, and you have all the ingredients for a terrific time at the movies.  But sometimes, the gap between what is and what might have been is just big enough to contain your disappointment.

Laws of Attraction is the kind of story that if it had been developed by the likes of Woody Allen or Neil Simon might have been one of the funniest and most charming of the new millennium.  As it stands, it seems more like a tired exercise of going through the motions.  The characters start at ‘A’, and eventually wind up at ‘Z’, and like the faithful alphabet, we know every letter they have to hit to get there.  Instead of experiencing a story through the eyes of the characters, we’re waiting for the film to stop fidgeting about and get us there.  Instead of touching the heart or tickling the funny bone, it tries the patience.

Audrey Woods (Moore) has never lost a case, and no wonder…she’s prudent, dour and to-the-point.  But all of that changes when she comes up against Daniel Rafferty (Brosnan), a slightly unkempt and relaxed attorney who has also never lost a case.  His devil-may-care attitude infuriates Audrey, who is more determined than ever to beat him every time they face off in court…can you feel the love tonight?

Daniel’s insights into Audrey’s personality are also a bit more than she can stand.  But when the two are forced to go to a castle in Ireland to settle a property dispute between their clients, a punk rocker (Sheen) and a radical fashion designer (Posey), they end up getting quite drunk and wake up slightly married.

You remember all that from the trailer, right?  Well…the point where they wake up married is the 2/3 mark in the film.  Which makes everything that led up to it seem superfluous and everything that came after hurried.  Imagine a film where two opposing divorce lawyers get married in the first half hour and how much that would complicate their lives…that’s the picture we should have gotten instead of the one we did.

The chemistry between Brosnan and Moore seems genuine enough, but as is often the case in romantic comedies, their characters are pawns instead of people.  They exist to move the story forward, and therefore, they rely almost entirely on the charm of the actors playing them to win audience empathy.  These two are good enough, so it comes close to working.

But the script holds back from exploring the fertile material of its own story.  It may have started out a bright idea, but it seems to have gone through the wash one too many times to get where it ended up.  What’s left is still wearable (barely), but the colors are all faded from it.

Video ***1/2

The colors are certainly NOT faded in New Line’s excellent anamorphic transfer (pan & scan version included as well).  New York and Ireland both look lively, with lots of frame detail, good clear lines and images front to back, and well balanced and natural looking colors.  Very nicely done.

Audio ***

Though mostly dialogue-oriented, the 5.1 soundtrack comes across with good dynamic range.  Spoken words are clean and clear, and one rock concert scene will definitely have your surrounds and your subwoofer jumping.

Features **

The extras include a pair of trailers and six deleted scenes, including an alternate ending.

Summary:

Laws of Attraction had the potential to be the year’s best romantic comedy, but unfortunately, the creators seemed to settle out of court and walk away with something only marginal for their troubles.  It’s not a complete waste of time, but if you’re like me, the movie playing out in your head afterwards will be much funnier.  And more romantic.  And entertaining.

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