From the twisted mind of Bret Easton Ellis, the man behind "American Psycho," comes another dark comedic satire... on college life. "The Rules of Attraction," written and directed by Roger Avary, tells the story of three young people in love, Sean Bateman, a morally-deprived drug dealer (James Van Der Beek) who has his eyes on Laura (Shannyn Sossamon), who is a virgin, and her ex-boyfriend, Paul (Ian Somerhalder), a bi-sexual who has fallen in love with Sean.
"The Rules of Attraction" has many rewards, including a unique visual style and storytelling approach, interesting if not slightly depraved characters and lots of other strange happenings. It's not for everyone, and it's definitely not "Animal House," but it is definitely creative enough to appeal to a certain audience. As for me, I didn't find it superb, but did find it entertaining, and the style itself deserves respect.
We start out with an introduction by Laura, who quickly describes how she became to be so drunk that she lost her virginity to some guy she had never met before. She also describes the whorish behavior of her roommate (Jessica Biel), including the time she had sex with several football players at once. Then, the film goes in reverse (literally) and we go to Paul and Sean (also note that the main character in "American Psycho" was Patrick Bateman, whereas here the main character is Sean Bateman), as they go about their days. Sean is especially interested in one girl (Kate Bosworth) whom he slept with a year or two ago but is refusing to acknowledge that he had ever met her before. Then, the movie jumps back a couple of days to see how our characters came to this.
More than anything, I just liked the visual flare of the film. I loved the way the movie went in reverse at times, and the effect this has on visuals. Things moving in reverse can be awfully entertaining. Furthermore, Avary does a good job of making what is sure to be a weird novel into a weird movie, without utterly confusing the audience ("American Psycho" was a little confusing).
Regarding the purpose of the film, I still have little idea as to what it is about. I realize it is a satire, but a satire on what? On college? On love? I don't know.
I also really don't care. "The Rules of Attraction" is a fairly entertaining and creative piece of work. Its characters are a little disturbing and the things they do are even worse, but for those who enjoy films where the protagonists are also the antagonists, "The Rules of Attraction" might be the right choice for a Friday night, especially among younger people.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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