The ruling on Rules of Attraction: Unattractive

Oct. 16, 2002, midnight | By Sally Colwell | 18 years, 3 months ago

Sure, it's cleverly presented, socially accurate and had a great soundtrack, but there was just one thing keeping The Rules of Attraction from being a success: it has no story.

What the movie presents is pointless, like describing in minute detail the surface of a white piece of paper. Instead of actual content it presents a string of connected yet meaningless, graphic scenes that border on the obscene. These are accompanied by drawn-out and repetitive sequences which often introduce new characters who are never revisited.

There is a tenuous plot, but even if did prove intriguing for a very few moments, the outcome is revealed at the beginning of the movie, rendering the ensuing hour and a half completely unnecessary.

The story (at least what can be gleaned of it) follows three (or is it more? Who knows?) college students as they pursue copious amounts of sex, drugs, and more drugs. Sean Bateman (James Van Der Beek), is a gorgeous, much sought-after senior and drug dealer who, when not risking his life visiting his coke-snorting supplier, has begun to fall in love with Lauren (Shannyn Sossamon). Her only memorable characteristic is a hairdo that gives her sideburns and the fact that she practices celibacy (although not for long). She loves Victor (Kip Pardue), her absent boyfriend who is touring Europe, and he in turn loves no one and mysteriously has no recollection of Lauren when he returns. Paul (Ian Somerhalder), the expressionless token gay guy who looks like he's walked out of a Calvin Klein lineup, is in love with Sean, but of course the feeling is not returned. The whole situation reeks of MTV's fleeting hit Undressed.

The characters themselves are all pretty despicable in their own unique ways, excepting those who simply lack a personality. Sean is a protagonist of sorts who quickly wins the contempt of the audience, a feeling only reinforced when he sleeps with Lauren's roommate, whose only personality trait is easiness. Paul is blank and unfeeling as he doggedly pursues Sean and remains so once he is rejected.

These people are not people. They are empty, and they render the movie empty as well.

The soundtrack, however, is refreshing in its originality and its variety. The camerawork was also very effective, and included some fantastic accelerated-time sequences, although these were a bit overdone. The movie would be much more enjoyable if viewed either muted or with just the music.

These beautiful people live out their shallow, ugly lives and play the parts of real people, but fail to convince that they are genuine. Their actions are implausible and often completely inexplicable, and by the end of the movie it still seems as if nothing has happened. As for the end, it would be impossible to give it away because, much like the point of this movie, there is nothing substantial enough to describe.

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Sally Colwell. Sally Colwell is co-centerspread editor and is tremendously excited to be on paper this year. In her free time she enjoys reading novels, drawing, not practicing the violin and attending demolition derbies. During the summer she is a counselor at Burgundy Center for Wildlife Studies … More »

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