October 27, 2002
Movie Review -- The Rules of Attraction

Wednesday was my annual day for playing hookie. *smiles* I took a half day off from work in order to have a fun date with Josh and go see a movie. Today, the movie of choice was The Rules of Attraction. Neither Liz nor Kevin had any desire to see it, so it was a great choice.

James Van Der Beek is one of the three main characters, and Jessica Biel one of the secondary characters. But this is no bright and shiny WB TV show. Nor is it even the studied teen trauma of those shows. If that's what you expect, do not see this movie.

What it is, is a dark story of the confusion of the lives of several college students. There is nothing light about the story. And it is artfully done (although perhaps a bit overdone on the art sometimes).

The movie begins with three mini-scenes. First, Lauren, describing how she was going to finally lose her virginity that night, but somehow ended up getting date-raped on film. Then the film moved backwards, rewinding through her scene in quick jumps to pick up on Paul, beginning at about the same moment in time and moving forward again through his attempted seduction of a man who insisted he was straight, and threw Paul (literally), out of his room. And then rewind again, bluntly backwards to pick up Sean and follow him forward through a hollow pickup at the fraternity party, moody and angry at something we don't yet understand.

And then, abruptly, the rewind happens again, taking the viewer back further and further, to the beginning of the story. At which point it follows the three characters forward, jumping from scene to scene in an expertly threaded story of three people who just can't seem to get it right.

There are questions at the end. Did the three scenes we saw at the beginning actually occur? The film seems to imply that Sean, at least, may have changed his destiny. And the end itself is ambiguous, or at least it was in our theatre -- we suspect they clipped a part of it while editing the final reel. *sighs* If anyone out there has seen it, drop me a note -- I'd like to know what ending *you* saw!

The characters are dry, and almost entirely unlikeable. But that is a part of the charm of the movie. This isn't a feel-good piece. Sean never gets it. Never. He finally manages to figure out that Paul is gay and trying to pick him up, but he never gets the intensity of the situation. And Paul, on the other hand, seems to find a depth of feeling from nothing at all, making that depth seem fake and out of place. Lauren... she goes through the movie with her illusions in place onlly to have everything shattered for her.

There is no happy ending. And there shouldn't be for these people. The ending seems right, seems appropriate.

Posted by Deb Atwood at October 27, 2002 10:32 PM | TrackBack

I believe the movie ended abrubtly as it did, in the middle of a sentence, for a reason. If you notice the number 7, which is a common # for good luck, is all over the movie. "Dick" and Sean are both drinking Jack daniels whiskey which is the Old No. 7, Lauren is wearing a pin of the # 7, and the guy who gets hit on at the beginning by Paul is wearing a shirt with the # 73 on it. I think that the reason this is all over the movie is that they are relying too much on luck and the theme of the movie is obviously you will your own destiny, even though at the beginning Paul says that luck has nothing to do with it, its all about destiny, pre-determination. But the end of the movie, which is also the beginning, has a completely different result than the beginning End of the world party, you can tell this since Sean is seen leaving into nothingness on his bike rather then sleeping with the drugged up girl again. I feel the author wanted you to realize that each one of us wills our own destiny, when you rely on luck or fate rather than being accountable for your own actions, your life ends up like theirs did, or could have. This is also why i think the end of the movie is left open to suggestion. You as the audience determines the ending, or the fate of the characters, just as you determine your own fate in real life. Just a thought.

Posted by: Paul on May 24, 2003 03:40 PM

Just to expand the 7 list a bit:
- The guy at the beginning actually wearing a #72 (I clarify for later reasons)
- Later we (twice, actually) a guy wearing #75 (now the clarification: 2 + 5 = 7!)
- After having sex with Lara, Sean pulls 7 tissues out of the box
- You see exactly 7 masks in the Euro-trip sequence

Posted by: Phoenix00017 on February 19, 2004 05:07 PM

does no one think that sean gets killed at the end of the film? like, knocked over by a car or something?

Posted by: lauren lover on August 24, 2004 11:58 AM
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