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NOTE: This spoiler was sent in by James Gibbons.
New York City, present day. Career orientated divorce attorney Audrey Woods (Julianne Moore) and her glamorous mother Sara Miller (Frances Fisher) pose as perspective buyers of a Manhattan townhouse belonging to the emperor of infomercials, Mr Gary Harrison (Peter Howitt not credited)
Unbeknownst, to the property realtor who has taken them on the viewing, Audrey is representing Harrisons wife, Mary (Brette Taylor), in the couples upcoming divorce, and has used this as an opportunity to take an inventory of the artworks that supposedly reside in the building.
Over lunch with Sara, Audrey comes to the conclusion that the deposition that has been put forward by Harrisons council is in fact fraudulent. Therefore, Audrey believes Harrison is attempting to scam his wife out of her entitled settlement, as some of the assets accumulated during the marriage have not been accounted for.
Determined to confront Harrison about the missing artworks, Audrey is subsequently blind-sided by the news that Harrison has hired a new attorney, Daniel Rafferty (Pierce Brosnan). Her response to which is to comfort a worried Mary by telling her that she has never been beaten, and to then retreat to the toilets to recompose herself, whereupon she consumes a Snowball confectionery in a effort to align her doubts over this new development in the case.
Accompanied by her legal assistant and Mary, Audrey enters the courtroom and finds the rakish Daniel asleep at the bench. Waking him, Audrey expresses her concern over his evidently lackadaisical approach and proposes to offer a settlement prior to the case being taken before the judge, Daniel declines and Audrey is perturbed.
As the court is brought into session, Audrey is confident that female Judge Abramovitz (Nora Dunn), will look favourably upon their case as she is a fellow divorcé. However some banter between Daniel and Abramovitz indicates to Audrey that the pair are friendly towards one another.
Audreys, opening argument exposes the fraudulent reporting of assets and she insists on a continuance. Daniel counters her plea, by accounting for the whereabouts of the missing artwork. Daniel reveals that the artwork was actually donated by Mr Harrison, with the consent of Mrs Harrison to a prominent museum.
In light of this new evidence, Daniel requests a continuance with the case. The Judge awards him a week, as he needs time to investigate Mary Harrisons dealings, specifically those regarding her six-month retreat to a specialist clinic dealing in sexual addiction. Dumb struck by this new revelation Audrey sits in her chair considering what else her client has neglected to tell her.
Back in her office, Audrey is on the phone to her mother, complaining about Daniels effective yet unorthodox approach. She is interrupted by a assistant who tells her to turn on the news, to Audreys amazement, she finds that Daniel is giving an interview regarding the case, and makes reference to Audrey not having a snowballs chance in hell of beating him.
Audrey decides to visit Daniels office, located in the Chinatown district of the city. Finding the door to his office unlocked she makes her way inside to discover that the place is a complete mess. As she starts to look through some files she is startled by the sound of Daniels voice echoing from the buildings lobby. Rushing to get out she re-arranges the files that she disturbed, but just as she is about to make her exit via the stairwell, she catches a glimpse of Daniel on the floor below.
Looking for an exit, Audrey bolts through the fire escape and sets of the alarm just as a slightly intrigued Daniel reaches his office door. Haphazardly Audrey makes her way down the stairs through the Chinese store on the level below and flees into the street; embarrassed by the chaos she created.
At a prestigious Law Society event, Audrey is being introduced as a leading figure of modern divorce law. The proceedings are interrupted by the untimely arrival of Daniel who also happens to be one of the guest speakers. Sitting next to her, Daniel jests about the attraction between them, Audrey rejects such a claim and demands to know what he is doing there. Just as Audrey is about to speak Daniel tells her that she is a replacement for someone else and the only reason why she was invited was because he endorsed her invitation.
Audrey furnishes on her audience a lecture that highlights her cold, calculating and methodical law abiding approach to dealing with divorce, which is in stark contrast to Daniels heartfelt speech that questions the ethics of their profession. To illustrate this point and to undermine the use of surveillance technology that lawyers use as evidence against philandering and unfaithful partners, Daniel takes out a small digital security camera, and endeavours to demonstrate to his audience the cruelty that they can inflict.
Attention is drawn to a large view screen at the front of the hall. The screen displays a succession of pictures from Daniels office. The images have captured the guilty Audrey rummaging through his files. Thankfully, for her sake, none of the photos used by Daniel reveal her face, with the only identifying garment being worn by the figure in the pictures being a red scarf, the same scarf that Audrey is quickly removing from around her neck. Once finished, Daniel receives a rapturous round of applause from his captive audience, but as he looks over to gauge Audreys response, he finds her gone.
At Saras apartment, Audrey once again complains about Daniel and is now even more determined to beat him in court, and concocts a cunning plan, involving a manipulative apology for any misunderstanding that she may have caused, that will ultimately result in Daniel lowering his guard.
Later at Daniels apartment, Audrey begins her assault and ends up with Daniel convincing her to invite him to dinner, she warns him of the 65% chance of rain, as she drops the interesting titbit that she watches the weather channel.
After arriving at the Cuban restaurant it doesnt take long for them to start to discuss their love lives and their different takes on such matters, but as the alcohol flows they both start to loosen up with one another, so much so that once they have left the restaurant and wait for a taxi in the rain, they give in to their desire and kiss.
The next morning, in Daniels apartment, after a night of much amore, they ready themselves for court. Audrey, however has lost her panties and has accidentally shrunken her suit, she looks quite bedraggled, compared to the pristine Daniel, who appears impeccably dressed and ready for his day.
In the courtroom, Audrey questions the validity of the prenuptial agreement signed before the Harrisons marriage, claiming that her client deserves more than she is entitled to. Daniel counters by arguing that Audrey is in fact contradicting herself, as he quotes her on how she said, intimacy doesnt change a thing, business is business. Audrey is then further unsettled by Daniels tact, as he inadvertently solves for her the mystery of her missing panties; as clasped within his hand is the aforementioned garment that he had used to write the quote upon.
At this point, Judge Abramovitz intervenes, and states how neither counsel has proved to provide any evidence that the prenuptial was flawed in any way, to which she decrees a dismissal of the case, Daniel wins.
Outside the Courthouse, Daniel breaks off from a bevy of reporters and chases after a frustrated Audrey. Pleading with her to wait, he wants a chance to apologise and explain how he doesnt want it to come between them, unimpressed she snatches back her panties and storms off.
Later, in a department store, Audrey and Sara talk about Daniel. Once again Audrey denies her attraction to him and is nonchalant that her dealings with him had to get so low-down. Sara then spots the new range of clothing from Serena (Parker Posey), a hip designer who is married to rock star Thorne Jamison (Michael Sheen), the lead singer of The Needles, who has just signed a lucrative recording contract.
Alone in her apartment Audrey, watches Daniel on TV giving an interview about divorce in New York and his new book, a catalyst which undoubtedly sparks Audreys victory over Daniel in their second meeting concerning the failed marriage of a basketball star. It is now Daniel who sits at home and watches a triumphant Audrey give an interview regarding her latest success.
We then speed through a successive number of court appearances in which our protagonists meet head on as opposing counsel, and again and again we witness how each gives as good as each other gets in a successive number of cases. With each judge who presides over their arguments becoming even more infuriated by the animosity between the pair.
Sitting in her apartment, Audrey lets her answer-phone pick up a message from Daniel, he asks her to give him another chance, but just as she is about to respond Sara enters and invites her to a concert, Audrey hangs up on Daniel.
At the concert, The Needles are playing, and Audrey is quick to make her exit, leaving her mother to revel in the noise. Outside, Audrey comforts a young woman sobbing over her wayward spouse. Audrey tells the woman not to worry, and that she should work at the relationship. But just then the woman makes a passing remark about the Serena dress Audrey is wearing, and the woman is revealed to be none other than Serena, the hip designer. It is at that point Audrey realises it would be prudent to give Serena her card, just in case she needs a good lawyer in the event of her divorcing her husband.
Serena sits in Audreys office as Audrey attempts to convince her that she should allow her to act as counsel, the bounty of which finds Audrey at lunch with her partners, toasting the likely arrival of Serena as a lucrative client for the law firm.
However, just as Audrey is to comment on the case, a waiter brings her a drink that Daniel and her shared at the Cuban restaurant. Looking around she finds Daniel sat a few tables away from her, and sitting with him is Serena! Mortified she leaves her table and accosts Daniel and her wayward would-be client.
Serena informs Audrey that she decided against hiring her, and she believes Daniel to be the more vicious of the two. Disgruntled Audrey returns to her seat and on spying Daniel making a beeline for the toilets, she follows him.
In the toilets, she accuses him of stealing Serena away from her, but he protests that he never knew she had met with her. Daniel tells Audrey that there is no need for the hostility between them and that they could be more than rivals. Bemused, he leaves her in the toilet and returns to the restaurant.
Thorne Jamison is making a public appearance, and in the hoard of screaming female fans stands Audrey who advises the lecherous rock star to hire her, and he does.
At a preliminary meeting, Daniel and Audrey, act as referees between the feuding couple, and decide upon taking individual depositions from their clients, in private. Unfortunately a bone of contention is raised. Both Thorne and Serena are ready to go to war over ownership of an Irish Castle that translated from its Gaelic name means Castle of Rock. It is the only thing that either one of them wants out of the divorce, as both claims that it was their own decision to buy it.
The evident stalemate leads both Daniel and Audrey to fly to Ireland to make their depositions. After dealing with the frustratingly Irish locals, Audrey is forced to hitch a ride to the castle with Daniel. En-route, whilst stopping to take in the scenery, Daniel manages to wreck the car, and the pair are forced to carry out the rest of the journey by foot.
By midnight they are caught in fog and completely lost and seek refuge in a beleaguered old trailer, they huddle together for warmth and share a romantic interlude.
The next morning, upon exiting the trailer, they discover that the castle is all but a few hundred feet away. As they walk towards the castle the old rivalry returns, as Audrey taunts, Daniel by predicting that he will be unable to find a single member of the castle staff to back up his clients claim of ownership.
Daniel and Audrey vigorously set about their work, taking statements from all the members of staff, however neither progresses with their case, as each staff member agrees with whatever Daniel or Audrey asks.
That night sees the villages 200th anniversary since its founding by a newly married couple. Daniel and Audrey dress for the occasion and head for the local pub, much drinking, dancing and frivolity ensues, with the pair getting drunk on moonshine, and as the festivities draw to a close they attend a marriage that commemorates that of the villages founding couple. Audrey and Daniel, look on
The next morning, Audrey wakes to a dreamy memory of her marriage to Daniel the night before. Once lucid the full realisation of what has happened dawns on her. Frantic, Audrey wants the marriage annulled, she wants to tell the Priest that they didnt mean it, but as Audrey goes running off into the house to ask for assistance in the matter, Daniel infers that he did.
On the plane back to NYC, Audrey tells Daniel that she will file for divorce on their return, he attempts to dissuade her by stating case law, but she is convinced that they will be the laughing stock of the Bar society (Law institution).
Reaching into her purse, Audrey pulls out a leprechaun figure and breaks its leg as she lays it on the table in front of her. Daniel picks it up and takes pity on it, for him the broken leprechaun is a signifier for their broken relationship. Audrey apologises to him.
Back in NYC, Sara consoles Audrey over her mistake of a marriage and they discuss her next move.
The next morning Audrey is woken by a phone call from her mother warning her that she better pick up a copy of the New York Post before she files for divorce. Running to her door, she finds Daniel waiting for her with a copy in his hand, with a feature article on their marriage.
Audrey accuses Daniel of going to the press, but he denies the charge as Audrey had made it abundantly clear that she wanted know one to know. Attempting to rectify the situation Daniel offers to ring the paper and demand a retraction, but Audrey stops him and asks for his trust, so that they may attempt a mutual resolution to the matter that wouldnt jeopardise their careers.
They decide to act upon the appearance of their faux marriage to save face. To create this effect, Daniel moves into Audreys apartment. And as he settles in for a life of domestic bliss, he finds his bride attaching a lock to her bedroom door.
The next morning, to keep up the supposed pretence, Daniel presents Audrey with a wedding ring, she is silenced by the gesture, the deception is complete but has Audrey began to waver?
In the courtroom, Judge Abramovitz resides over Serena and Thornes divorce case, and as emotions run high both have to be restrained by bailiffs. Meanwhile Audrey and Daniel take centre stage in front of the bench. As the case continues, it is inter-cut with montages of Daniel and Audrey enjoying their married life.
One evening though, whilst Daniel is taking out the garbage, he discovers some notes pertaining to Audreys brief, looking at them solemnly, he comes across an amount for $4million dollars with a reference to Aspen Colorado. Later on that same evening, Audrey enters her living-room and sits on the sofa next to a sleeping Daniel, on the coffee table she picks up the broken leprechaun that Daniel has now mended.
Back in court, Audrey questions Serenas alleged fidelity, but the very same question is thrown back to her as Daniel reveals that Thorne spent $4million dollars on a home for his Mistress in Aspen. Daniel has crossed the line, Audrey knows that there is no way he could of known about the money without reading through her case files. Audrey is devastated, Daniel is ashamed that he stooped so low, Thorne is furious and Serena is livid. Audrey demands a divorce.
Later on, Daniel explains how he came across the evidence, but Audrey doesnt believe him. Daniel wants her to reconsider; he claims he is with her because he wants to be, and not just to avoid mockery from their peers, he loves her, and if she really wants a divorce he will give her one, as he believes that when you love someone you should be unselfish enough to give them whatever they want. Daniel leaves her in the courtroom and tells her that he is moving out of the apartment.
Sitting together, Sara comforts an emotional Audrey and reveals that it was in fact her that leaked the story to the press, but apart from that she doesnt know what Audrey should do.
In Judge Abramovitzs office, Audrey is informed that Thorne has absconded to Castle Rock. The Judge reminds Audrey that this is in breach of the court order concerning the property, and she gives her 48hours to bring him back, before she dismisses the case for failure to prosecute.
On arrival at the Castle, Audrey hears the screaming voices of Thorne and Serena, expecting the worst she bursts in on the pair, however she has interrupted them in the throes of passion. Thorne informs Audrey that they have reconciled their differences, and just as Audrey comes to terms with this new development Daniel is found standing in the doorway, having evidently arrived to retrieve his missing client.
Now that all have been reunited Thorne calls out for his butler, Michael (David Kelly). On entering, Daniel and Audrey recognise Michael as the Priest from the anniversary festival, and it transpires that they were never really married. Shocked, both Audrey and Daniel take in the magnitude of this situation.
Daniel makes his excuses and swiftly leaves, Audrey starts to cry, but she recomposes herself as Serena reminds her that if something is worth having its worth fighting for. Inspired by this new-found confidence in her love, Audrey, Serena and Thorne jump into his Hummer 4x4 and chase after Daniel to catch him before he makes his return flight to NYC, unfortunately Audrey misses him, and books herself on the next flight back.
Shopping in the Chinese store underneath his office a lonely Daniel makes his way through the aisle, but as he looks up from some groceries he hears a forlorn Audrey making a plea to his heart, to fight to save their marriage.
As Daniel looks towards Audrey, we cut to Judge Abramovitzs office. Having reprimanded the pair for all the hassle they have caused her, she asks Daniel whether he takes Audrey to be his wife, she accepts, and he accepts her, they kiss.
The happily married couple makes their way to a waiting limo, and once inside they consummate the union by each taking a bite from a snowball confectionery. The driver warns them that they better put up their windows, as there is a 79% chance of rain in the next half-hour; a piece of advice he freely gives, as like Audrey, he is also an avid viewer of the weather channel. Taking this as a good sign Audrey and Daniel start to laugh, as together, they could weather any storm.