The Rules of Attraction

Director: Roger Avary
Year Released: 2002
Rating: 2.0

Ellis' book was trashed when it came out by lit-critics, who used every single negative adjective they could when reviewing it (Rules came after the ever-popular and personal favorite Less Than Zero), although the lashing wasn't totally justified and the book, for better or worse, continued Less Than Zero's drugs-and-sex-and-ennui streak that would carry on in American Psycho. Making a movie of the book is a challenge, because the book is little more than a collection of monologues, and Avary does his best, but the result ends up too film-school-ish: the events running-backwards trick gets old fast, the split screen, the violent outbursts, the wild camera angles/movement, the actual mention of Clara Bow and footage of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, the combination of pop and classical music and the stylized suicide (it's more affecting than it has any right to be). Given the current streak of college students behaving badly, it isn't the freshest of ideas (all of these films seem to have a moral agenda) and when it comes to its final point – that people can't really know each other, that people aren't always attracted to each other – you can't help but wonder which philosophy major's journal it came out of (not mine, I can assure you). James Van Der Beek and Jessica Biel's attempt to cleanse themselves of the WB's teenie-bopper machine is pretty obvious, though neither is noticeably out-of-place in the decadent surroundings. I want to go on vacation with Victor.