A general feeling of insecurity may be prompting society to embrace one of its oldest institutions: marriage.
So say the director and stars of “Laws of Attraction,” a romantic comedy about two divorce lawyers, which opens nationwide April 30.
“The world we live in is a more dangerous world; it’s a less secure world,” Peter Howitt, the film’s British director, told religious journalists in Los Angeles recently. “We all feel a bit more frightened, and I think we may be feeling like if we’re going to steady the ship a little bit, the family is a time-honored tradition that goes back centuries.”
Howitt, 47, got married for the first time two years ago.
“Maybe, without us saying it out loud, somewhere deep in our own ethos, in our own self-consciousness as individuals and people on the planet, we are trying to steady the boat by not being so frivolous and being a bit more solid—where we take on a commitment, stick with your commitment,” he said. “Show some solidity, and hopefully that will bring solidity to the world.”
Pierce Brosnan, who plays disheveled attorney Daniel Rafferty, agreed with Howitt’s impression of the world at large.
“We live in cynical times, in dangerous times,” Brosnan said. “It’s very hard to find hope.”
“Marriage seems to be a dying trade, which is sad,” Brosnan continued. “People turn to divorce now very easily, very readily, and that’s a frightening way to look at the future of humankind, because we need to be committed to each other on a man-to-woman basis so we can create families of love and have stronger communities. There’s a certain cynicism to marriage, you feel. And it takes work.”
Brosnan was married for 14 years to Cassandra Harris, who died in 1991 of ovarian cancer. He married Keely Shaye Smith in 2001.
During the interview, Brosnan spoke candidly about the gravitas of a marriage ceremony.
“It is such a powerful ceremony, whether it be you and your partner and just a priest, a pastor and two friends,” he said. “It’s such a powerful commitment in the eyes of God, especially when you do it in the eyes of your family and friends—a commitment to each other. It does elevate you to another level of love and sharing and respect for each other.”
“I’ve been lucky in my life to have love and marriage twice,” Brosnan concluded. “And on both occasions the ceremony was deeply profound and indelible in my mind.”
Four-time Oscar nominee Julianne Moore plays attorney Audrey Woods, who is drawn to commitment even as she is frightened by it.
“I think that there is a return to marriage as a choice,” she said, noting that previous generations got married because it was expected.
Moore married filmmaker Bart Freundlich last year after seven years of companionship.
“You can’t be truly intimate with somebody, you can’t really know them, until you promise to be there and be present and to work through stuff,” she said. “You only get somewhere by going beyond that. And I think that’s an important thing to hear in a movie.”
Brosnan said he attended several divorce proceedings in New York courts as he prepared for the role.
“They’re very sad rooms, those courtrooms, when you see two people who have lived maybe 15 years together, or two years together, and their tattered life is hanging around their shoulders,” he said. “Very depressing. Very depressing.”
Howitt said divorces tend to bring out the worst in people, and he bemoaned the fact that involved parties seem unable to channel their negative passions into something constructive that might help save the marriage.
“You get the feeling that people become things in a divorce situation and get aspects of their character—hatred and anger and ferociousness and passion and fight—and I think that a lot of them don’t know where that’s come from,” he said.
“And if a marriage is over, it’s over, admittedly, but a lot of marriages could be saved—not that I’m on a crusade or anything—but they could be saved if people used some of that energy and passion,” he ended.
Actress Frances Fisher, who plays Audrey’s mother, emphasized the importance of commitment.
“I think more important is the idea of commitment and whether it takes form as marriage or just a commitment to say, ‘I’m going to stay with you, and you’re my woman and I’m your man,'” she said.
“I think that’s what’s lacking in our society,” Fisher said, “is people who are really willing to commit and go the distance.”
Cliff Vaughn is culture editor for EthicsDaily.com.
Our review of “Laws of Attraction” will appear Friday, April 30.
The movie’s Web site is here.