The Rules of Attraction

2002

The Rules of Attraction

Critics Consensus

A tiresome movie about unsympathetic college kids engaging in self-destructive behaviors.

43%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 140

71%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 50,616
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Movie Info

Set in an affluent New England liberal arts college in the 1980's, an emerging sexual triangle emerges between Sean Bateman, who deals drugs on the side, Paul Owen, who's bisexual, and Paul's ex-girlfriend, Lauren.

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Cast

James Van Der Beek
as Sean Bateman
Shannyn Sossamon
as Lauren Hynde
Jessica Biel
as Lara Holleran
Ian Somerhalder
as Paul Denton
Eric Szmanda
as NYU Film Student
Kip Pardue
as Victor Johnson
Clifton Collins Jr.
as Rupert Guest
Thomas Ian Nicholas
as Mitchell Allen
Eric Stoltz
as Mr. Lance Lawson
Faye Dunaway
as Eve Denton
Clare Kramer
as Candice
Curtis Anderson
as Guy Rolling Keg
Swoosie Kurtz
as Mrs. Jared
Colin Bain
as Donald
Theresa Wayman
as Food Service Girl
Skyler Stone
as Quinlivan
Noelle Evans
as Crack Whore
Kavan Reece
as Handsome Dunce
Michael Ralph
as Jamaican Guest
Malcolm Galt
as Hacky Sack Guy
Cheyenne Wilbur
as Maitre D'
Paul Williams
as Duty Doctor
Ron Jeremy Hyatt
as At the Player Piano
Lucille M. Oliver
as Young Nurse
Drew Wood
as Jim From Dartmouth
Holly Hollywood
as Undressed to Get Screwed
Amber Smith
as Undressed to Get Screwed
Alaina
as Undressed to Get Screwed
Trisha Upton
as Undressed to Get Screwed
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News & Interviews for The Rules of Attraction

Critic Reviews for The Rules of Attraction

All Critics (140) | Top Critics (34)

  • This is an exercise that is in love with its own superficiality, delighted with an emptiness that was all it ever aspired to, and yet it manages to turn into a better movie than it has any right to be.

    Jan 2, 2018 | Full Review…
  • Actually I quite enjoyed the movie--but how do I get rid of this awful discharge?

    Feb 11, 2008 | Full Review…
  • The leads and their accomplices look dead glam, but it's never clear whether their vacuity is a deliberate strategy. Certainly Avary's style seems all for instant gratification.

    Jun 24, 2006 | Full Review…

    Geoff Andrew

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • A disagreeable and unrewarding expose of what spoilt college students get up to in expensive New England colleges.

    Apr 20, 2003 | Full Review…

    Philip French

    Guardian
    Top Critic
  • This is fiercely original and seriously funny.

    Mar 4, 2003 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

    Nev Pierce

    BBC.com
    Top Critic
  • Ellis' satire, filtered through Avary's harsh lens, is hard to stomach, harder to ignore.

    Nov 19, 2002 | Rating: 3/4

Audience Reviews for The Rules of Attraction

  • Apr 13, 2013
    Bashing "The Rules of Attraction" because its characters are shallow and unlikable is missing the point; they're narcissistic, amoral, worthless beings because that's precisely what the film is all about. It's the cinematic equivalent of holding a mirror up to half of this country's population, and granted, some elements are exaggerated, but that comes with the territory. As well, "The Rules of Attraction" is just plain original filmmaking, and even if its themes of nihilism and moral turpitude are hard to stomach, there's no denying that it's a powerful piece of work.
    Stephen E Super Reviewer
  • Feb 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. 
    Melvin W Super Reviewer
  • Oct 23, 2012
    Despite the great soundtrack, decent performances and expert direction, this film based on Bret Easton Ellis feels a bit sterile, depicting with clever irony the moral decline of our society but not as effective in making us relate to its shallow, unlikable characters.
    Carlos M Super Reviewer
  • Aug 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.
    Alice S Super Reviewer

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