Review by: Jack Foley | Rating:
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Two audio commentaries featuring Ian
Somerhalder, Shannyn Sossaman and Kip Pardue; 'The Anatomy of
a Scene' featurette (26 mins); Theatrical TV and radio spots;
FROM its poster featuring cuddly toys in various sexual positions
to its boast that it comes from the corrupt minds that brought
you American Psycho and Pulp
Fiction, audiences should be aware that this is no ordinary
slice of gross-out college campus fare.
Rather, it is the flip side of American
Pie, a sordid, drug-fuelled rampage through rites-of-passage
teenage angst that sets out to stick two fingers up to the sweet-natured
innocence of recent coming-of-age tales in a way that resembles
deflowering a virgin on prom night.
Written and directed by Roger Avary (co-author of Pulp Fiction)
and based upon the novel by Bret Easton Ellis (of American Psycho
fame), The Rules of Attraction is described as a scabrously
funny social satire of life and love among the young and the privileged.
It is also notable for tarnishing the nice-guy image
of Dawson Creek poster boy, James Van Der Beek, and for constantly
flirting with the US censor in its bid to avoid being removed
from the mainstream.
And to a certain extent, it succeeds in exposing the wasteful
obsessions of its hormonally-charged protagonists and their hedonistic
excesses, coming across as a deliciously barbed movie that is
likely to offend as many people as it enthrals.
Van Der Beek stars as one of three affluent students, a drug
dealer over his head in debt, and who has slept his way round
the college campus, who suddenly finds himself falling in love
with Shannyn Sossamons breezy loner, who may or may not
be penning love letters to him.
Sossamon, however, is in love with another, a former boyfriend
now travelling around Europe, who she is determined to save herself
for, while Van Der Beek finds himself fending off the unwanted
attentions of Ian Somerhalders gay libertine, who is struggling
to come to terms with his own sexuality.
Surrounding them are the usual glut of friends and sleeping partners,
all of whom stagger from one drug-alcohol-and-sex-drenched party
to the next, the type of which go by names The End of the World
Party, The Dress to Get Screwed Party and The Pre-Saturday Night
But while Avarys film is to be applauded for avoiding the
usual cliches and for refusing to drift into mawkish sentiment,
in which everyone learns valuable life lessons and emerges the
better for it, there are times when it feels as though it is striving
a little too hard to be controversial.
Its cast, in particular, is packed with people trying to escape
established images, (former Wonder Years star, Fred Savage, and
American Pie regular, Thomas Ian Nicholas (Kevin) crop up regularly),
while its endless scenes of debauchery eventually become tiresome.
Van Der Beek, however, is refreshingly good as the morally bankrupt
Sean Bateman (who is actually the brother of American Psychos
Patrick in the Ellis novel), while Sossamon does a credible job
of displaying a darker side to her usual love interest persona
- someone who insists on looking at pictures of sexual diseases
before every party in a bid to preserve her virginity, but who
ends up virtually being raped by her eventual suitor.
But then this is bleak stuff indeed, albeit with a dark line
in humour, and one which taps into the confusion which surrounds
any teen journey. Fun in places, and disturbing in others, this
is cynical filmmaking at its gaudiest.
In fact, rather like stumbling into one of the parties it depicts,
you may find yourself intoxicated by whats on offer while
viewing, but then wondering what happened and who you met by the
time you awake the next morning. Perfect viewing, then, for a
speed-dating obsessed generation.