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Reviews » Theatrical Reviews » Rules of Attraction
Rules of Attraction
Lionsgate Home Entertainment // R // October 11, 2002
Review by Todd Siechen | posted October 11, 2002 | E-mail the Author
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If you liked "Boogie Nights" or "Requiem for a Dream" you will probably like "Rules of Attraction". There is a very similar feel to this dark comedic drama. This film shows us in graphic screaming detail just how warped and empty a young persons mind can get when they aren't sent out into the world with the faculties to deal with their own emotions or the tools for connecting with another human being. In a sea of constant chemical dependency we have a young cast of college students who are aching for some kind of connection to the world, but coming up empty.

Sean Bateman (James Van Der Beek) is the local college drug dealer trying to get himself out of constant debt to his unstable, gun swinging supplier Rupert Guest (Clifton Collins Jr.). Sean looks forward to recieving regular anonymous notes of affection from someone nearby but doesn't seem particularly interested in discovering the identity of the sender. He thinks it might be Lauren Hynde (Shannyn Sossamon) who secretly likes Sean and tries very hard to remain a virgin by looking at graphic books on sexually transmitted diseases. There are actually several characters in the film that lust after Sean in one way or another while Sean seems to go on thinking only of his anonymous admirer and collecting money from those who buy drugs from him. The only real conversations going on are in the heads of each character and each one takes on a life of its own having little or nothing to do with the people around. This goes a long way towards showing the loneliness and isolation that each character feels while trying desperately to find someone to connect with. A constant search for sexual and chemical gratification keeps these dysfunctional kids from dealing with their own situations and pain, yet others can only find peace by taking their own lives. Cameo appearances are made by Fred Savage, Eric Stoltz, and Faye Dunaway.

The film uses a lot of unusual photographic techniques to bring us from the pivotal last party to what happens earlier to tie the characters stories together. Throwing the film into reverse to bring us back in time a bit and into a different characters experience of the same event. Dark, disturbing imagery is common here with many characters narrating their thoughts as they go through these lonely times in their lives not really connecting with anyone around them. This film could also function effectively as a parental instructional tool showing what can happen to your child when they leave home if they are not raised with love, given validation, self-respect, and generally made to feel worthy of being loved.

Summary: This film requires a certain kind of mindset to really succeed. It will certainly go over a lot of peoples heads and leave them feeling cheated, but for me it was another dark look into the consequences of child raising gone bad, only in this case we don't get to see any of the actual childhoods themselves - only the result. The filmmakers may not have intended this at all, but for me it came through loud and clear. I look forward to a DVD where there is a commentary so I can hear what was on the minds of the writer and director.
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