The Rules of Attraction comes to DVD

The Roger Avary film The Rules of Attraction, based on the book of the same name by Bret Easton Ellis, depicts the somewhat empty lives of rich kids at a New England college called Camden. This film marks Avary’s first return to the big screen since his last film, 1994’s Killing Zoe.

The movie begins with “The End of the World Party” where the story is being told from three different perspectives by Sean (James Van Der Beek), Lauren (Shannyn Sossamon) and Paul ( Ian Somerhalder). When one person finishes telling a story, the scene is rewound to the beginning of the next person’s story, which makes for a cool visual technique. When the conclusion of the last person’s story comes up, the rewinding technique is used again to bring us back to the beginning of the school semester, to fill viewers in on the events that lead up to the party.

Sean Bateman is best described as the campus “pusher man.” If a student wants a joint or some “blow,” then he’s got it. He unfortunately owes his supplier Rupert (Clifton Collins, Jr.) some money, but he does not seem worried about it, despite the threats he receives. Sean is cold, calculating, and likes to use people to get what he wants, especially drugs and sex. He starts to think that he is in love when he receives anonymous love letters in his mailbox.

Lauren Hynde, believe it or not, is still a virgin and takes out her frustration with snorting coke, drinking and smoking. Her routine before going to a party is to look through a big book of venereal diseases, so that she will not sleep with anyone. She is the only student who is seen attempting to go to class. She wants to lose her virginity to a self-assured “ladies man” named Victor (Kip Pardue), who does not even know that she exists and also sleeps with her roommate Lara (Jessica Biel).

Paul Denton is a homosexual and Lauren’s ex-boyfriend. He has his eye on Sean and tries to get close to him by inviting him to his room to smoke a joint. His goal (like the others’) is to get laid, but most of his efforts are disastrous. In one scene, he is quite violently turned down. He is so infatuated with Sean that when a freshman almost ODs and needs to be taken to the hospital, he replies with, “I have to meet someone at seven.” He is always fashionable, just like the stereotypical homosexual in a movie and his “self-medicating” mother is clueless about his sexuality.

Everyday there is a party on the campus where students get drunk or high and participate in sexual activities. They do these things so much that it produces an empty high for them. They are searching for something bigger and better, but they end up fruitless. Sean’s “love” for Lauren ends up getting stomped on when he reverts back to his womanizing ways.

When the big book has lost its effect on her, Lauren decides to get drunk and lose her virginity, which ends up not being as romantic as she had hoped and doesn’t happen with Victor. Paul makes a move on a guy who he thinks is gay, which results in him getting beaten up and kicked out of the guy’s room in front of a bunch of female students.

The Rules of Attraction is a must see for moviegoers that are into sick, twisted humor and story lines that are less than predictable. The visual effects Avary uses, such as the rewinding technique and the split screen make the movie more interesting to watch. The movie succeeds in showing how rich kids are not any better than the average college student and that money cannot buy happiness.

It is also a movie about college students trying to figure out who they are and what they want. The majority of the actors in the film have never played roles as edgy as this until now, and they do a good job pulling it off. Performances from James Van Der Beek, Jessica Biel, and a cameo from Fred Savage may prove to be a shock to some who are used to seeing them in their roles on “Dawson’s Creek,” “Seventh Heaven” and “The Wonder Years.” For those I have convinced, the movie will be available February 18 on DVD and videotape.