Ahh, the memories of all of the random movies I was able to watch for free due to my old roommate. Back when she worked for Disney, my roommate would get advanced screening passes to all sorts of movies, even some that were not Disney films. Today’s movie was one of those movies and I remember enjoying it in the theaters so during a random movie buying binge several years ago, this wound up being one of those purchases. So let’s see if this movie is still enjoyable as I watch today’s movie, The Rules Of Attraction.
The plot: Lauren is attending the End of the World Party at Camden College and wants to lose her virginity to Victor but he had been having sex with her roommate Lara. So she ends up taking a film student upstairs to have sex with him but she passes out and when she comes too, she finds herself being raped by a “townie” while the film student films it on his camcorder. Paul is at the same party and stares across the room at Sean but ends up taking a jock up to his room to do some ecstasy. As the pills start to take effect, Paul tries to kiss the jock, who violently shoves him away and when Paul taunts him about being “closeted”, the jock throws him out of his room and spits on him. Sean sees Lauren taking the film student upstairs and rips up some letters written on purple paper. As he looks around the party, he heads towards a girl who he had sex with at the beginning of the term but when she asks him his name, he lies and says he is a freshman named Peter. Sean takes the girl back to his dorm and as they are having sex, he finds himself thinking that he can’t remember the last time he had sex while sober. Going back several months to the beginning of the school year, Sean checks his mail and receives a love letter written on purple paper. Later, Sean goes to see Rupert, his drug supplier, who is angry over the amount of money that Sean owes him and threatens to shoot him but Rupert’s friend, a Jamaican named Guest, tells him to leave Sean alone. When Sean says that all the new freshmen are coming to campus so he can charge them more for the drugs, Rupert agrees and allows Sean to leave but Sean has trouble getting his customers to pay the money that they owe him. At the Edge of the World Bonfire, Paul sees a guy, Mitchel, that he had flirted with before and continues flirting with him but Mitchel’s girlfriend shows up and tells Mitchel to take her back to her room. She invites Paul to join them but Mitchel tells her he can’t come. Paul goes to get a beer from the keg but Sean cuts in front of him and the two end up talking. Sean is only half paying attention to what Paul is saying and through miscommunication, Paul believes that Sean said he was bi and arranges to meet with him the next day. Saturday morning, Sean and Lauren both head to a Saturday morning class but the teacher is passed out in his office so the class is cancelled. Sean and Lauren start talking and after Lauren takes his sunglasses as she leaves, Sean pulls the letter from his pocket and thinks that she is the one writing to him. Meanwhile, Paul is getting ready for his supposed date with Sean when a friend bursts into his room saying another friend is overdosing and drags Paul away to help him. Paul reluctantly helps take the kid to the hospital and watches as his two friends panic over the fate of their friend. Elsewhere, Lauren is at her dorm looking through a book of venereal diseases in order to convince herself to not go to a party and hook up with a guy, though her roommate Lara tries to convince her to come. At the party, Lara talks with Sean for a while, who asks if Lauren is coming, and she explains about the book. Later, Sean is getting some more beer and Paul approaches him and apologizes for missing their date, then invites Sean back to his room to smoke pot. Lauren shows up at the party and asks Lara if she has seen Sean and when Lara tells her he went off with Paul, shoe worries at first but calms herself by thinking that he just went to sell Paul some pot. As Lara goes to hook up with a guy, Lauren’s teacher approaches her and asks about why she missed the tutorial on Saturday. Lauren accompanies him back to his house and they start making out but when she finds out he is married, she refuses to sleep with him but does end up giving him a blow job. Sean and Paul end up getting stoned in Paul’s room and Paul imagines sleeping with Sean. The next day, Paul receives a call from his mom telling him to come up to the city for the weekend and he asks Sean to give him a ride to the bus station. Returning to campus, Sean gets another love letter that says “Tonight is the night.” Meanwhile, Lauren and Lara are snorting cocaine in their dorm room and Lauren tells her that she plans on going all the way with Sean, saying that they have a connection. In the city, Paul meets up with Dick, the son of one of his mother’s friends, who will be joining them for dinner and ends up causing a scene at the restaurant before he leaves. Back at college, Sean attends a “dress to get laid” party and is talking to Lara as she snorts some more cocaine and when he asks about Lauren, she tells him that she isn’t coming and that she has a boyfriend. Sean ends up having sex with Lara but he imagines it is Lauren. Meanwhile, the girl who was writing the love letters is actually a student that works in the cafeteria. She sees Sean leave with Lara and ends up writing him a suicide note, then heads into the women’s bathroom and slits her wrists in one of the tubs. Lauren returns to her room and finds Sean finishing getting dressed and she slams the door as he tries to apologize and heads to the bathroom to cry, only to find the girl’s body. When Sean finds the suicide note, he tries talking to Lauren but she refuses to speak with him. When Lara tells him he is wasting his time, he ends up punching her, blaming her for what happened. Sean attempts to commit suicide through various methods but they all fail so he decides to fake it. Lauren shows up at his room and sees him lying in bed with fake blood and while Sean laughs at fooling her, she calls him sad and runs off. Victor, arrives back in town from Europe and he is telling Sean and Mitchel about his adventures in Europe. Victor asks Sean for some pot and Sean agrees to get him some but says Mitchel has to come with him. Sean and Mitchel head to Rupert’s house to get the pot but when they get there, Rupert demands his money. Sean gives him the money that Victor gave him but Rupert says it isn’t enough and ends up threatening Sean and Mitchel. A fight breaks out, with Sean cutting Guest’s hand, and Sean and Mitchel manage to escape and make it back to college, where Mitchel kicks Sean out of his car. Meanwhile, Lauren learns that Victor is back in town and heads to his dorm and runs into Sean, who tries to talk to her and asks to get to know her but she tells him he will never know her. Lauren reaches Victor’s dorm and knocks on the door and when he opens it, she hugs him and starts kissing him but Victor says he doesn’t know who she is and Lauren notices Lara jumping on Victor’s bed in her underwear. Paul sees Sean sitting on the steps at the stadium and tries talking to him, saying he wants to get to know him but Sean tells Paul that he will never know him and Paul starts yelling at Sean as he leaves. Sean goes and checks his mailbox but doesn’t find a letter inside. Rupert and Guest enter the mailroom and Sean tries to run but the stop him and proceed to give him a beating. Returning to the events at the beginning of the movie, Sean sees Lauren heading upstairs and then spies the blonde but it is shown that his sleeping with her was only a fantasy as Sean puts his drink down and leaves the party. Later, Lauren walks outside and runs into Paul, who is moping on the porch. The two start talking and Paul tells her that Sean loves her but Lauren says it doesn’t matter. Paul asks if she was the one writing Sean letters and Lauren tells him it was someone else, as the two watch Sean ride off on his motorcycle. As he rides, Sean starts a monologue about his thoughts on Lauren but it is cut off as the credits start to roll.
The Rules Of Attraction met with mixed to poor results from the critics, holding a 43% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is that it is, ” A tiresome movie about unsympathetic college kids engaging in self-destructive behaviors.” The movie originally received an NC-17 rating so the director made cuts to the film in order to get an R rating, however those cuts were retained in some of the foreign releases of the movie. The movie was a mild success at the box office, earning $11.8 million off of a $4 million budget and has since garnered a bit of a cult following.
This is a pretty dark look at an aspect of college life that most people don’t necessarily want to think about. The acting was good, with James Van Der Beek (Sean), Shannyn Sossamon (Lauren), and Ian Somerhalder (Paul) doing good jobs in their roles. The story was really good and from what I remember, followed the novel it was based on pretty closely. Like I said, this movie essentially focused on the other aspect of college life that did not involve grades or sports, sex and drug use, though some aspects of this felt like something out of the 70’s. Especially Lauren hooking up with her teacher, which felt similar to what happened in Animal House. There wasn’t much special effects work in this movie, but they did have a pretty effective use of split screen camera work a couple of times, especially when Sean and Lauren first meet. It’s probably not going to be your first choice for a college themed movie but it is worth watching.
Rating: 3 out of 5