“THE RULES OF ATTRACTION”
The Rules of Attraction” is a twisted story about sex, drugs, and college life. Three students at Camden College are involved in a love triangle. Sean Bateman, a womanizing drug dealer is love with Lauren, a virgin but who is more infatuated with her ex-boyfriend. Then there is Paul who is bisexual and used to date Lauren before he came out. Paul,
However, is interested in Sean who he thinks is bisexual. Throw in a bunch of other characters and you have a mess. In fact everyone in this money is suffering from some kind of problem and each is only looking out for him or herself. We can tell right away that no good can come from these people and we are told so right in the beginning as the first scene of the movie is the end of the story and the rest of the movie tells us how we got to that point. In fact, a more apt name for this movie would be “Les Miserables” as that is what everyone turns out to be.
In reality the film is a satire of those crazy teen movies like “American Pie” and “There’s Something About Mary”. If we look at the movie like this, it is ingenious. If, on the other hand, we look at it as just a movie, it bombs.
The characters are not the kind of people that you would want to call friends but that does not mean they are not interesting. The problem with them is that we all know someone like them and they are realistic. Without the acting, this film does not move and the cast manages to succeed at that. For a young cast, the acting is good, better than what I had expected. His direction, however, is highly stylized and the tricks that Roger Avary employs just do not always work but by and large when I consider what he had to work with, his job is admirable.
I think a lot of people were expecting a fluff movie with a young cast and what they got is a dark and realistic movie. It destroys some of the myths about drugs and college life and because of this, the movie has been deemed offensive by many. The treason for the offense is that many cannot understand that there are really this shallow who have no feeling.
There seems to be no narrative focus, no beginning and no end and the focus is on a group of selfish ambiguous characters who traffic in rape, drugs, and homosexuality and general obsessions. We don’t see smiling happy college kids. Rather we are given kids who have problems and they aren’t pretty problems either. The characters are lost souls, pathetic people that we do not want to emulate. There is no resolution, there is no love.
Everything seems to be overdone and excessive. The first time I watched the film I thought that my distrust in humanity had been validated and that perhaps I should consider becoming a loner. The characters are vile and horrible and not much more than amalgams of the worst that society has to offer. The only character that elicits sympathy dies right way. The satire on wasted youth never quite reaches its conclusion and comes off more as sour grapes.
On the other hand, the movie can be classified as brilliant. It was true to the novel from which it was adapted and resented real characters even if we d not want to admit that people like this really exist. We are not supposed to like these people because they are too much into not being attached to anyone or to themselves. On first viewing I found the whole movie to be an appalling mess. On second viewing I eased up a bit and by the third viewing I was really into it. But then if it takes three viewings to appreciate a movie. I wonder if it is worth the effort. It is a challenging film. When sex means no more than a handshake, you want to question our value system. Likewise I am still questioning “The Rules of Attraction”. Maybe one day I will shout its praises. Right now I am not in the mood for a fourth viewing.