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“Laws of Attraction” is an appealing movie not because its two opposing divorce attorneys are attracted to each other, but because those two divorce attorneys weigh whether to move beyond attraction to commitment.

This romantic comedy, which opens nationwide today, stars Pierce Brosnan and Julianne Moore as Daniel Rafferty and Audrey Woods—two New York lawyers as different as night and day. She lines up colored pens on her desk; he can’t find anything. She’s neatly tucked; he’s sloppy. She rests on every jot and tittle of the law; he uses, in her words, “cheap theatrics.”

 

When they first meet across the aisle in court, they enjoy the friction. The banter is lively, the challenge is worthy. But soon, they find themselves in the middle of a helter-skelter divorce case between two high-profile clients whose maturity levels hardly match their fame.

 

The case leads the lawyers to Ireland, where they take not only depositions, but also marriage vows while under the influence of alcohol. They thus return to New York, where they must make their marriage seem legitimate. Such is the course of the movie, which winds up being a light-hearted piece on making marriage work.

 

Frances Fisher plays Audrey’s beauty-obsessed mother who’s fond of dressing and sometimes acting like a teenager. When Daniel meets her and asks if she’s really 56, she responds, “Parts of me are.”

 

But we’re also led to believe it’s the mother’s obsession with physical appearance that partly accounts for Audrey’s insecurity, which she tries to manage in a variety of ways.

 

It’s also likely that her mother’s behavior—and history—help account for Audrey’s position on marriage: She thinks the institution is dead, in contrast to Daniel, who continues to believe in marriage despite his frequent exposure to individuals who disgrace it.

 

Fisher is joined in the supporting cast by Michael Sheen and Parker Posey; they play the infantile, uninhibited couple whose impending divorce puts Audrey and Daniel in the same courtroom. They play the roles to the hilt and remind everyone of how passion—however goofily demonstrated—can enliven a marriage.

 

“Laws of Attraction” is a solid romantic comedy featuring zippy dialogue, intelligent humor and good pacing in the hands of director Peter Howitt.

 

Furthermore, it’s refreshing to see older actors instead of teenagers in a romantic comedy, because the latter are frequently neither romantic nor comedic. Brosnan and Moore are both, with Moore demonstrating a genuine capacity for humor that one hopes to see more of.

 

Cliff Vaughn is culture editor for EthicsDaily.com.

 

MPAA Rating:  PG-13 for sexual content and language. Reviewer’s Note:

Director: Peter Howitt

Writers: Aline Brosh McKenna and Robert Harling

Cast: Daniel Rafferty: Pierce Brosnan; Audrey Woods: Julianne Moore; Sara Miller: Frances Fisher; Thorne Jamison: Michael Sheen; Serena: Parker Posey; Judge Abramovitz: Nora Dunn.

 

The movie’s Web site is here.

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