When writing about a movie, I often try to write in the mood and tone conveyed by the film itself. However, I hope you’ll forgive me if I don’t try to get very in sync with Rules of Attraction, since I’ve no desire to pop pills and hump my keyboard while vomiting on my monitor.
The Rules of Attraction stars a usual assortment of young beauties, both male and female, cavorting about college in the usual way, completely shallow in the traditional manner, and totally wasted to a degree no real university would ever allow. Rules is all the excess of a typically edgy teen movie, just more of it, and minus any of the interrelational entanglements, which seem to get in the way doing more acid. Directed and written by Roger Avery, it somewhat focuses in on the story of three students; different yet all in some way connected to each other. But as the characters themselves say, no one really ever knows anyone, and we never really know these people anymore than they seem to know themselves.
You see I firmly believe that Avery is trying to make some grandiose, anti-teen movie statement that will stick in your craw and make you think hard about the world around you. But so obtuse is his attempt at social satire that it isn’t worth the effort not to overlook his artsy fartsy predilections and see this film as ambitious but paper-thin shallow. What I’m telling you, is that despite Avery’s attempts to the contrary, Rules of Attraction is sanctimonious trash that’s trying desperately to make you feel something but succeeds only in making individual viewers numb and accepting of the vile waste that is a horde of loser teens’ worlds.
There are true flashes of visual brilliance and intelligence, hidden beneath the piles of drugs, rape, and in-sex vomiting. For example, Avery frequently employs a rewind gimmick as a creative way to carry us from scene to scene and float through individual character introductions. We are introduced to each character at the end, only to rewind in bits, moving from scene to scene, then rewinding in full to see things happen from the beginning. This is at first confusing and admittedly makes the film choppy, however it is eye catching and interesting, though I’m not sure it deserves to be called a success. Beyond rewinds are small things that more pleasingly capture the eye. A snowflake for instance, which falls on Van Der Beek’s cheek and melts into a tear in place of actual character emotion. Brilliance… but wasted in a petty, emotionally spiteful little film like this.
Avery, a director of acknowledged talent and apparently courage has delivered a wasted effort with a wasted cast of wasted characters wasting their lives away in a wasted setting with nothing to recommend it or them. Much like the characters within it, Rules stumbles around in a perpetual state of drunkness wasting what few moments it has to reccomend it on empty symbolism. This is a vile, cold-hearted film, which if we’re lucky will simply dry up in a constricted little pile of mean spirited bitterness and blow away. If we’re lucky, it’ll take the likes of James Van Der Beek right along with it.