The Rules of Attraction - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Rules of Attraction Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ April 18, 2007
Yup, that's pretty much how i remember college, AFU

brook - class of '87
Super Reviewer
½ February 28, 2013
Paul Denton: I feel like my life lacks forward momentum, ya know.

"There Are No Rules"

The Rules of Attraction was a very disappointing movie for me. Not because it was really bad or poorly made, but because it never was able to get its point across in a way that was satisfying. Along the way, the film has some interesting commentary and dark humor, but the message is lost. I haven't read the book, but I'm guessing that the movie left out something that was vitally important in getting the message across clearly. 

This follows a love triangle at Camden University, where rich, young men and women go to party, do drugs, and have sex. I think classes go on there too, but it doesn't seem like many of the characters really give a shit. The love triangle is between Sean, Paul, and Lauren. Sean is a part-time drug dealer who falls in love with Lauren. Paul is a bisexual, who used to date Lauren and now has a thing for Sean. Lauren is a virgin, who is waiting for her boyfriend to come back from Europe, but also wants to lose her virginity.

As far as college movies go, this one is completely different. It's dark, it's odd, and it all seems very hateful. There's no sympathy for the characters which isn't something that has ever made me hate a movie, and it doesn't make me hate this one. What made this a disappointment for me was that it had such promise the whole time, and then we get to the end and I'm just left confused at what the actual point is. 

This is an entertaining movie that has some good things too say and some not so good things to say. In the end though I was left wanting more from it and it looks like that is the general response from most viewers. I'm not going to say to pass on it because it really isn't a bad movie, but I reserve myself from recommending it also. 
Super Reviewer
October 23, 2012
Despite the great soundtrack, decent performances and expert direction, this drama feels a bit sterile, depicting with clever irony the moral decline of our society but not as efficient in making us relate to its shallow, unlikable characters.
Super Reviewer
August 25, 2012
After watching this, I wanted to shave off my skin, blow my own brains out, then sit in a cold shower hugging my knees. James Van Der Beek is delightfully skeevy, and it was nice seeing gruff and comparatively aged Ian Somerhalder from "The Vampire Diaries" all young and cherub-cheeked. Hilarious against-type cameos from Fred Savage and Eric Stoltz.
Super Reviewer
March 22, 2011
Three college students navigate the perils of courtship all the while not realizing their own shallow natures and inability to understand that their methods are incapable of producing their goals.
What I like most about Bret Easton Ellis's satires is the way he takes generic conventions with which we are all familiar, like the serial killer genre in American Psycho and the college rumpus genre a la Animal House in Rules of Attraction, and uses these basic tropes as fodder for his critiques. Here, we all know these characters before we start the film: Sean is the attractive but troubled player, Paul is a gay man in a straight man's world, and Lauren is the quirky, attractive girl looking for the right guy to lose her virginity to. We've seen this before. But in Ellis's hands, the satiric exaggeration becomes how oppressively shallow each trope/character is. When Sean uses the word "love," we can't help but realize how of his actions belie the seriousness that word deserves. And the line "You will never know me" is so true because there is nothing to know. Ellis's point is that here, in college, where these characters are supposed to be expanding their minds and discovering themselves and their place in the world, they're ultimately merely layering on the lies. It is important to note that the only professor we see asks a student for a blow job -- not exactly the life of learning that parents think they're footing the bill for.
I also liked Roger Avary's direction. There are moments when the film reverses, sharp cuts, lightning-fast dialogue, and an inventive and effective use of split screen. All of it was consistent with the fast-paced, drug-addled life these characters are living.
I did think the film slowed down in the second act, and some of the party scenes became more about shock than advancing the story.
Overall, Rules of Attraction is a valuable satire about college life. If you watch it and like it, you might also want to check out Tom Wolfe's book I Am Charlotte Simmons.
Super Reviewer
½ February 1, 2011
"The Rules of Attraction", written for the screen and directed by "Pulp Fiction" co-writer Roger Avery and based off Bret Easton Ellis' most energetic novel, is essentially a comedy of manners. This is true satire through and through. It may be an easy target, debauchery among the upper class is nothing new, but with Avery filtering Ellis' words for the screen it becomes a potent combination. Plus, the picture is just plain fun. Nifty cinematography, a rocking soundtrack and naughty, spirited performances reinforce the themes. It's a rare thing to see a novel adapted to correctly to film, so if you are a fan of Ellis' book or his work as a whole, this is a must-see. I also recommend it to anyone who is in the mood for a saucy and scathing social commentary.
Super Reviewer
October 13, 2010
Jeez, this movie will give you a serious bad impression towards high school. I didn't find the idea that much likable. It was pretty eff-ed up. The rewinding idea was okay for once but not for every time.
Super Reviewer
November 16, 2009
One of those movies that somehow got ignored for whatever reason, but is a true masterpiece. All the characters are somewhat tragic and have this apathetic quality to them, but you can't help but love them. I think it's one of those movies that shows people for what the really are sometimes, horrible, and it isn't afraid of that.
Super Reviewer
September 25, 2009
This film has been directed brilliantly with some great original techniques but I didn't like the characters or the story. Modern classic? I think not.
Super Reviewer
½ May 18, 2006
What Rules of Attraction is and what Rules of Attraction wanted to be are glaringly different. Indifference is the only emotion one can take away from this cleverly made but totally lacking film.
Super Reviewer
½ May 14, 2007
Original, cool and all about love, sex and life in college. I loved this movie's unique style of directing, which felt remarkably fresh and well-thought-through. The actors were great as well and all delivered a solid performance, which I suppose we chiefly have the well-written script to thank for. Besides all this, the movie (for reasons that will become evident once you see it) also made me wanna go and out and party all night, which sure earns it a top spot in my book :-)
Super Reviewer
March 18, 2008
Although I usually like movies where young people are finding themselves, I found this movie to be a bit much.

Like the plot description says, from beginning to end it has "drugs, blow jobs, pornography, booze, rape, masturbation, beatings, suicide, attempted suicide, faked suicide, loss of bladder control" and more and I just don't feel things are like that.
Super Reviewer
October 18, 2007
Pretty stupid.
Super Reviewer
May 27, 2007
Strange of the self-indulgent Generation Xers is updated to Generation Y, but the characters are still aimless and repellent - and for that matter, so is the film. Director Roger Avery resorts to several camera tricks - slow and fast motion, timelapse, backward action - but never makes his story coherent or his characters interesting. (Disappointed it has no English substitles)
Super Reviewer
½ October 25, 2006
Stylishly told black comedy that thinks its a teen drama. It's filled with so much fucked up and random humor which combined with Avary's style allows you to forgive its shortcomings.
Super Reviewer
½ July 5, 2006
The teen/college-age theme is taken a step further in this gem. It's much more than a superficial keg party, football team or prom-themed youth movie. It deals with the angst of youth in a more mature way than in most films that portray this segment of society.The way the film is shot suggests hints of a Tarantino influence and the split shot is cool watch. You'll know which one I'm talking about when you see.
Nate Z.
Super Reviewer
½ February 24, 2006
[font=Arial][color=darkred]'The Rules of Attraction' is based on Bret Easton Ellis' hedonistic 80s novel about boozing coked-out, aloof teenagers and their rampant debauchery. Roger Avary was Quentin Tarantino's writing partner for years, with an Oscar sitting at home for co-writing 'Pulp Fiction'. As a director Avary lays the visual gloss on thick utilizing camera tricks like split-screens and having entire sequences run backwards.[/color][/font]

[font=Arial][color=darkred]While Ellis' source material is empty, echoing the collegiate friendships bonded over substances or social lubricants, Avary does his best to represent the dazed world of college. Not the Tara Reid-integrated college of 'Van Wilder' mind you.[/color][/font]

[font=Arial][color=darkred]We open with Lauren (Shannyn Sossamon) getting coldly deflowered by some drunk "townie" while the film buff she had her eyes on videotapes it. She's just broken up with the bisexual and apathetic Paul (Ian Somerhalder), and both are interested in the dealing sociopath Sean Bateman (James Van Der Beek), a self-described emotional vampire.[/color][/font]

[font=Arial][color=darkred]Lauren keeps a picture book of venereal diseases to ward her from her wayward sexual urges. Her roommate Lara (Jessica Biel) needs no such book. Our introduction of Lara has her dancing down a hall, liquor bottle in each fist, bedding an entire sports team.[/color][/font]

[font=Arial][color=darkred]Some attractions connect, many don't. But the fun is watching the characters interact in their own seedy, yet often hilarious ways.[/color][/font]

[font=Arial][color=darkred]The best thing that 'The Rules of Attraction' has going for it is its about-face, against type casting. The film is populated with the WB's lineup of clear-skinned goody-two-shoes getting a chance to cut loose. Van Der Beek broods like a predatory hawk and bursts with spontaneous rage. Biel sexes it up as a cocaine-addicted harlot who asks if she's "anorexic skinny" or "bulimic skinny." Even Fred-'Wonder-Years'-Savage shows up briefly to shoot up between his toes! We're along way from the creek, Dawson Leary.[/color][/font]

[font=Arial][color=darkred]The adults of this world are no better than the kids. Eric Stoltz has an extended cameo of a duplicitous professor offering a higher GPA if any coeds are willing to go down on their morals. Swoosie Kurtz and Faye Dunaway show us that pill-popping dither heads will breed drug-addled teenagers.[/color][/font]

[font=Arial][color=darkred]'Attraction' may have the most disturbing suicide ever witnessed in film. After having her advances rejected a woman slips into the bathtub, razor in hand. The scene is as unsettling as it is because the camera hangs on the poor woman's face every second and we gradually see the life spill out of her.[/color][/font]

[font=Arial][color=darkred]Some of Avary's surface artifice works perfectly, like Victor's whirlwind account of an entire semester in Europe. Some of the visual fireworks are distractions to the three-person narrative but the film is always alive with energy, even when depressing you.[/color][/font]

[font=Arial][color=darkred]What 'The Rules of Attraction' does get right is the irrational nature of attraction. Each character is trying to fill an inaccessible void with what they think is love, but will often settle for sex, drugs, or both.[/color][/font]

[font=Arial][color=darkred]'The Rules of Attraction' is made up of unlikable, miserable characters that effectively do nothing but find new ways to be miserable. It constantly straddles the line of exploitation and excess but maintains its footing. The movie is entirely vapid but it is indeed an indulgently fun yet depraved ride. If you're looking for degeneracy instead of life affirmation, then 'The Rules of Attraction' is your meal ticket.[/color][/font]
[font=Arial][color=darkred]Nate's Grade: B- [/color][/font]
Super Reviewer
½ June 15, 2008
Roger Avary has a great visual style that is well executed in the movie, the problem is that he thinks that just because characters have shitty things happen to them and act bi-polar it means that they are three dimensional. It's not terrible by any means, the short scenes with the Dick character played by Russell Sams are near genius, but the rest of the film seems to be grasping for some sort of message about college life and how shallow people can be, but it can't decide if it's going to do that through strait up satire or realism.
Super Reviewer
½ February 1, 2007
Sick, sad, and strangely compelling.
Super Reviewer
Drugged up and wacked out teen drama, where the rules are there are none and the content is bitterly depressing and harshly cruel. It will leave you reeling, and will spit you out dry. An aquired taste.
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