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The Rules of Attraction | Review

Swallow this!

Avary delivers a hilariously enjoyable tale of kids that do the bad things that we love.

Forget about high GPA scores, this film is about “scoring” in a completely different sense of the word. Welcome to the 80’s university freshmen and seniors-a bunch of crazed kids who’d be on the honor roll if they were graded for giving fellatio to their profs, whacking off to porn, getting stoned and wasted or having more than one sexual partner in a space of 24 hours. Rules of Attraction’s introduction is pretty trippie, think of it as playing a Black Sabbath record backwards (some of the introductory scenes are actually played backwards!) combined with a back and forth play with time in the narrative- sort of like Doug Liman’s 1999 teen flick Go, where everything starts with a specific moment in time to only come back to the same moment- but from a totally different point of view. Avary who contributed to most of Tarantino’s early success and who’s only other film as a director was Killing Zoe (1994) attacks this project with style,- making for a visually über-cool and imaginative episodic storytelling. Don’t look for anything insightful, or particularly human about the oeuvre-as the entire cast of characters represent the core of ugliness in humanity in combined pint-sized portions.

Kids can be cruel, could have been the alternative title for the pic- as we can witness through the actions of almost every single figure in the picture. With all the screwing that is going around it comes as no surprise that the film’s three main protagonists end up getting “screwed”. The gay boy Paul Ian Somerhalder-Life as a House) who asks if he can “bi” lunch and doesn’t get anywhere, Lauren (Shannyn Sossamon- 40 Days and 40 Nights) waits for her knight in shining armor and gets an army of creeps to mentally beat her up and we get the good looking boy Sean (James Van Der Beek-Texas Rangers) without a heart who happens to get his heart broken. Perhaps Van Der Beek’s part in Todd Solondz Storytelling never materlized-as it was completely cut from the film, but he more than makes up for it in this picture with a character that is penetratingly shallow. Not only are his thoughts disturbing but the Jack Nicholson in The Shinning-look in his eye and open jaw show the deep psychotic nature of the character. Among the littered storyline about a secret crushes and strong infatuations on sex and drugs are the botched and successful suicide attempts, vicious keg-parties, coked-up pissed off drug-dealers, a wicked European summer vacation (featured in a cool five-minute montage of images) and a table dining experience that is absolutely hilarious featuring a pill addicted pair of mothers (with Faye Dunaway-Chinatown) and their gay drunken sons.

Once the acid trip is over, you come to one conclusion-this is a dark film with plenty of ugly people. Maybe there isn’t much of a story, but the pace is dead on, and the characters offer an energy which is matched by the crazy visuals. Rules of Attraction might be a nightmare for future moms and dads but for anyone one doesn’t mind a little sex, drugs and rock n roll guerilla storytelling or for anyone who has a twisted sense of humour and who doesn’t mind a little noir in his cup of coffee are probably in for the most delicious menu item of the month.

Rating 3.5 stars

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Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist, and critic at, established in 2000. A regular at Sundance, Cannes, and Venice, Eric holds a BFA in film studies from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013, he served on the narrative competition jury at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson’s "This Teacher" (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022, he was a New Flesh Juror for Best First Feature at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Current top films for 2023 include The Zone of Interest (Glazer), Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (Pham Thien An), Totem (Lila Avilés), La Chimera (Alice Rohrwacher), All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (Raven Jackson).

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