Chalk another one up on Julianne Moore’s check-chasing shit list. The rapidly withering actress—who’s never shuddered at appearing in studio sludge like Nine Months, Assassins, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Evolution, and Hannibal—currently essays maybe the most obnoxious white woman in a Hollywood movie since Erin Brockovich. This screwball pastiche with the comic rhythm of a dump truck marks her first starring role in a movie that necessitates she be typically sweet and funny, neither trait of which her meritorious credentials in hard melodrama can even begin to approximate. Dreadfully partnered with the effortless Pierce Brosnan, the two play battling Manhattan divorce attorneys who get drunk, fuck, regret it, get drunk again, get shotgun-married, fuck again, regret it again, and (after a soul-killing hour-and-a-half, not including the Catch Me If You Can-facsimile opening credits) fall the fuck in love. Brosnan’s characteristically roguish advances, which generated showers of sparks opposite come-hither Rene Russo in the fabulous Thomas Crown Affair remake, are detrimental here given the creepily strained and non-charismatic nature of the coupling. Underrated for how much he understands the power of pause, Brosnan’s generosity unfortunately begets Moore’s mugging. Her Audrey Woods is depicted as a craven, sexless careerist—the only conduit the movie has to establishing her workplace equality—and Moore concurs with that, exuding the cuddly charm of Ann Coulter. The pernicious cliché of an attractive woman gobbling product placement, err, junk food is utilized to gain humility and to differentiate Audrey from her socialite, nipped/tucked mother (Frances Fisher, channeling Katherine Helmond), however it merely amplifies her human ugliness. Unequipped at tweaking anything resembling wit from her character’s horrible clucking, and botching all comedic opportunities, Moore resorts to gaining audience acceptance via contemptuous treatment of others—highlighted by Audrey’s frequent arrogant outbursts and mocking of cultures other than her own. This is a woman who, in the context of reality, no self-respecting man would desire to share an elevator with, much less the rest of his life. The gauzy lens filters that erase Moore’s lines and freckles also rob her of an instinctive rawness and honesty. To see Laws of Attraction is to see an actress play the fiddle while her reputation burns.
- Peter Howitt
- Robert Harling, Aline Brosh McKenna
- Pierce Brosnon, Julianne Moore, Parker Posey, Michael Sheen, Nora Dunn, David Kelly, Frances Fisher, Elva Crowley, Mina Badie, Mike Doyle
- Slant is reaching more readers than ever before, but advertising revenue across the Internet is falling fast, hitting independently owned and operated publications like ours the hardest. We’ve watched many of our fellow media sites fall by the way side in recent years, but we’re determined to stick around.
We’ve never asked our readers for financial support before, and we’re committed to keeping our content free and accessible—meaning no paywalls or subscription fees. If you like what we do, however, please consider becoming a Slant patron.
You can also make a one-time donation via PayPal: