The Rules Of Attraction

The Rules Of Attraction


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Love is dead. Sex happens. Loyalty swithers and drugs rule. The writing of Bret Easton Ellis emerged from its vacuum with Less Than Zero. Now comes Phase Two in the disillusionment of youth. It's not so much the rules of attraction as the abuse of privilege.

The Romans understood this. Now it's the turn of cynical New England college students. Imagine a teenage romantic comedy, the kind you hate because you've grown wise to boy band lyrics and the smell of her hair as it touches your cheek. Notch it up a few years and you're dressed for the Pre Saturday Night Party party, expecting to get stoned/drunk/laid. Staying alive means no commitment, no apology, no violins. Girls are judged by breast size, boys by their ability to pay. Alcohol, cocaine, casual rape, collateral damage and ritual humiliation constitutes the perfect farce of further education in The Great Democracy.

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The ensemble cast has one thing in common - they fancy the wrong person. Sean (James Van Der Beek) falls for Lauren (Shannyn Sossamon) who is keeping herself pure for Victor (Kip Pardue) who goes to Europe and forgets who she is. Paul (Ian Somerhalder) is infatuated with Sean, as is an unnamed girl, who remains in the shadows, fantasising tragically.

The film begins back-to-front at The End Of The World party, where Lauren loses her virginity to an oaf she hasn't met, so drunk he vomits over her, and then flips time to show how they reached this point and why their emotional lives are arid.

There's no hope, really. Sean is the central character, a drug dealer and chauvinist, who only thinks about No 1. He spends rare sober moments looking miserable and bitching about girls, when not being chased by his suppliers for running up four figure debts.

Roger Avary directs with a flair for despair. The script slits your wrists and leaves you in a pool of tears. Ellis must be a moralist, because if this is the result of sex's release from servitude, celibacy becomes the holy grail. The caption reads: "No one knows anyone." Alienation is the new cool.

Reviewed on: 27 Mar 2003
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Sex, drugs and failed relationships amongst cynical New England college students.
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Director: Roger Avary

Writer: Roger Avary, based on the novel by Bret Easton Ellis

Starring: James Van Der Beek, Shannyn Sossamon, Jessica Biel, Ian Somerhalder, Kate Bosworth, Kip Pardue

Year: 2002

Runtime: 110 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: US/Germany


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