The Rules Of Attraction

"OK"

The Rules Of Attraction Review


Like an episode of MTV's barely-legal late-night dorm life soap "Undressed," with 20 times the creativity but without any more substance, "The Rules of Attraction" is a stylish, glib, endemically energetic diversion that's indulgently entertaining but could have and should have been deeper.

Enthusiastically adapted by Roger Avery (co-writer of "Pulp Fiction" and writer-director of "Killing Zoe") from the whimsically subversive novel by Bret Easton Ellis, it's a black comedy about the feral underbelly of modern campus life, full of cinematic invention but narrative superficiality.

Populated by teen-TV lightweight types trying to gain edgy credibility, "Rules" stars James Van Der Beek ("Dawson's Creek") in the movie's most resonant performance as antihero Sean Bateman, a deviant college cool-jerk -- who, for the trivia-minded, is the younger brother of the title character in Ellis's "American Psycho."

A boozehound campus stud who cruises parties looking for drunk coeds to take to bed, he considers himself "an emotional vampire," who now thinks he's fallen in love with another of the story's protagonist-narrators named Lauren (Shannyn Sossamon), mostly because he's turned on by her professed chastity.

Clinging to the romantic notion of losing her virginity to a crush who's off in Europe for a semester, Lauren slowly abandons her ideals as she's pulled under by a party lifestyle riptide. But Sossamon ("A Knight's Tale," "40 Days and 40 Nights") is too inherently slinky to have much credibility as a virgin, so her downfall feels like a pretty short trip (even if she does give it up to a guy so drunk he throws up during sex -- was that really necessary?).

Completing a triad of loosely connected central characters is a bisexual predator named Paul (Ian Somerhalder, "Life As a House") who is drawn to straight guys -- and especially to Sean Bateman -- that don't even remotely desire his pouty kisser, chiseled cheekbones and long eyelashes.

The cinematically imaginative Avery does wonderfully wild things with split screen effects (as Sean and Lauren flirt face-to-face, we see their faces side by side), sound design and footage played in reverse (the film opens at the end of a semester, then rapidly rewinds to the beginning as the title credits run). The movie's most exhilarating three minutes are capricious fast-forward highlights of Lauren's boyfriend traveling and partying in Europe.

But while "Rules" is certainly stimulating, its narrators are shallow, callow college party-crowd people (albeit intentionally) who think they're deeply philosophical, but whose ugly psyches aren't made vivid enough to be of more than passing interest.

Eccentric supporting characters often make a more lasting impression with only one or two scenes. Eric Stoltz has a passing role as a pervert professor. Fred Savage shakes off his "Wonder Years"/"Working" image as a permanently stoned dormie. Faye Dunaway and Swoosie Kurtz are a riot as the prescription-pill-swapping, cocktail-swilling, potty upper-crust mothers of Paul and his craziest childhood friend (Russell Sams, who is trying too hard to channel both Jim Carrey and Hunter S. Thompson at once).

The film also suffers from a temporal incongruity: The book takes place in the 1980s and like "American Psycho" is meant as a dark satire of the decade's excesses. But while Avery leaves the characters' Reagan-era values and addictions conspicuously intact, he's transplanted the action to present day. Why? Probably for the sake of commercial viability in the picture's college-age target demographic.

Even collectively, these problems aren't enough to prevent anyone with a wicked sense of humor and an appreciation for clever movie-making from relishing "The Rules of Attraction" for what it does have to offer. But with so much unbridled creativity running loose, it's a pity the movie doesn't quite gel the way it should.



The Rules Of Attraction

Facts and Figures

Run time: 110 mins

In Theaters: Friday 11th October 2002

Box Office USA: $6.5M

Budget: $4M

Distributed by: Lions Gate Films

Production compaines: Kingsgate Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 43%
Fresh: 59 Rotten: 78

IMDB: 6.8 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Sean Bateman, as Lauren Hynde, as Paul Denton, as Lara, as Kelly, as Harry, as Mitchell, Russell Sams as Richard 'Dick' Jared, Kevin Pardue as Victor, as Raymond, Clifton Collins, Jr. as Rupert, as Candice, as Mrs. Denton, as Mrs. Jared, Colin Bain as Donald, as A Junkie Named Marc, Kavan Reece as Handsome Dunce, as At the Player Piano, Theresa Wayman as Food Service Girl

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

After the thunderous reception for J.J. Abrams' Episode VII: The Force Awakens two years ago,...

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Like the 2015 original, this comedy plays merrily with cliches to tell a silly story...

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

There's a somewhat contrived jauntiness to this blending of fact and fiction that may leave...

Ferdinand Movie Review

Ferdinand Movie Review

This animated comedy adventure is based on the beloved children's book, which was published in...

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Director Dave McCary makes a superb feature debut with this offbeat black comedy, which explores...

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

A dramatisation of the real-life clash between tennis icons Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs,...

Shot Caller Movie Review

Shot Caller Movie Review

There isn't much subtlety to this prison thriller, but it's edgy enough to hold the...

Advertisement
The Disaster Artist Movie Review

The Disaster Artist Movie Review

A hilariously outrageous story based on real events, this film recounts the making of the...

Stronger Movie Review

Stronger Movie Review

Based on a true story about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, this looks like one...

Only the Brave Movie Review

Only the Brave Movie Review

Based on a genuinely moving true story, this film undercuts the realism by pushing its...

Wonder Movie Review

Wonder Movie Review

This film may be based on RJ Palacio's fictional bestseller, but it approaches its story...

Happy End  Movie Review

Happy End Movie Review

Austrian auteur Michael Haneke isn't known for his light touch, but rather for hard-hitting, award-winning...

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Seemingly from out of nowhere, this film generates perhaps the biggest smile of any movie...

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

A Victorian thriller with rather heavy echoes of Jack the Ripper, this film struggles to...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.