The Rules of Attraction

Nearly a decade ago, two guys named Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avary co-wrote a little movie called Pulp Fiction. While Tarantino quickly rose up through the ranks of Hollywood, Avary languished outside the spotlight, writing other movies and directing Killing Zoe and Mr. Stitch. The Rules of Attraction, based on Bret Easton Ellis' novel, is his rallying cry at Hollywood for people to take notice. The movie feels like a student film at times, with Avary doing everything he can to try to stay relevant or cutting edge. The result is a mess, but it is an admirable mess at times. The Rules of Attraction follows some college students as they seem to do everything except go to class. The entire bunch of them are nihilistic and self-destructive.

Drugs, drinking and sex, in any particular order or combination, are the most important points in each student's day. Sean Bateman (James Van Der Beek, Texas Rangers, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back) is the poor guy masquerading as the rich guy. He is also the campus drug dealer, vending his wares to the students. He is lusting after classmate Lauren Hynde (Shannyn Sossamon, 40 Days & 40 Nights, A Knight's Tale), who is a virgin. Lauren is different than most women that Sean meets, and that intrigues him. At the beginning of the movie, Lauren is deflowered in a wholly disgusting manner, then the movie shifts backwards in time to show how everybody got to that point. Lauren wants to wait for her boyfriend Victor (Kip Pardue, Driven, Remember the Titans), who is currently on vacation in Europe. Her roommate is Lara (Jessica Biel, Summer Catch, I'll Be Home for Christmas), who gets is from basically everybody. She wants Sean, but he doesn't really want her. On the other hand, Paul Denton (Iam Somerhalder, Life as a House) is really lusting after Sean. He throws himself at Sean, who for the most part, is oblivious and to Paul's come-ons.

There isn't really a point to The Rules of Attraction, and that's probably what Avary was going for. His message about the habits of college students is not new. He portrays some of the professors and parents as just as bad as the students, and that is not new either. His fancy camera tricks even feel out of place and at times pretentious. Avary's use of the film going backwards is a little excessive, enough so that it feels like it adds too much time to the film. Some things like split screen, rapid-fire editing, and messing with time and plot have already been done to death in recent years. What does work is Pardue's Micromachine Man-like recital of his adventures in Europe. With all the things going on in The Rules of Attraction, it is surprisingly, well, boring.

Mongoose Rates It: Not That Good.
1 hour, 50 minutes, Rated R for strong sexual content, drug use, language, and violent images.

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