|Laws of Attraction|
|DVD Romantic Comedy|
|Written by Abbie Bernstein|
|Tuesday, 24 August 2004|
“Laws of Attraction” is a romantic comedy that feels like it could have been made at almost any time in the last 35 years (once unmarried couples were allowed to have sex without one of the pair getting hit by a bus shortly thereafter). It’s agreeable in its ultra-fluffy way, though it’s yet another example of the genre in which a man – slightly flawed but basically reasonable – puts up with behavior from a gorgeous woman that charms him more than it will most viewers.
Julianne Moore plays Audrey Woods, a Manhattan divorce attorney who is great at her job but lousy at life. Despite the fact that she’s played by the gorgeous Moore, Audrey has no love life and is almost fanatically opposed to dating. She comes up against fellow divorce lawyer, Irish transplant Daniel Rafferty (Pierce Brosnan), who is underhanded (but no more than Audrey) in some of his information gathering tactics. Daniel becomes smitten with Audrey and patiently woos her, despite her suspicious crankiness. The two have a one-night stand, avoid each other for ages, but cross paths repeatedly in the courtroom. When they find themselves on opposing sides in yet another divorce case – actually, “find” is putting it entirely too casual a word, as Daniel steals Audrey’s client and Audrey then signs up the client’s aggrieved soon-to-be-ex – the pair wind up in Ireland. Romance and alcohol both get to the couple and they wake up to discover that they’ve gotten married. Audrey panics, but when the press gets wind of it, she feels a divorce between divorce lawyers would be unspeakably bad for business.
Three guesses how it all turns out, and the first two don’t count. The screenplay by Aline Brosh McKenna and Robert Harling, from McKenna’s story, is at least frisky and cheerful, but it all seems so formulaic that we can’t share Audrey’s doubts about Daniel. There is some fun to be had watching Frances Fisher as Audrey’s player mom do her thing, and Michael Sheen plays Audrey’s rock star client as luckier version of the lads in “This Is Spinal Tap,” which makes for a good deal of humor.
Director Peter Howitt makes the most of the gorgeous Irish locations and keeps his leads appealing, though there’s not a great deal of depth to any of it. Then again, there’s no actual malice – we can safely continue to root for Audrey and Daniel to wind up together, because neither ever does anything so horrible that we think they should walk away.
The DVD comes with widescreen and full-screen options. The widescreen is really wide – 2.35:1 – and very handsome, with vivid colors. Ireland has storybook greens and mythic blue mist in a night sequence. Sound isn’t a huge element in this film, but it’s extremely good nonetheless. Applause in Chapter 4 is properly discrete and enveloping, coming at us from all sides in the 5.1 track, while Chapter 5 has some hot Cuban music in the background of a restaurant scene, followed by a great surround effect from the rain. Chapter 7 becomes startlingly loud as the action switches to a rock concert, while in a Chapter 11 stepdancing sequence, we can hear every specific footfall and piercing whistles within the crowd.
Special features are sparse – there are some deleted and alternate scenes, including a shorter version of the finale and an expanded version of the rock star’s promotional video, with Sheen expanding on his expert “Spinal Tap”-esque spin on a musician who’s cheerfully not quite on the same plane as the rest of us.
“Laws of Attraction” is froth, but if this kind of film is your cup of cappuccino, it’s not an unattractive example of its kind.