Rules of Attraction

"Rules of Attraction" proves romance just isn't what it used to be.

Roger Avery's "Rules of Attraction" has taken Brett Easton Ellis's social satire and not only depicted a degenerated privileged class at a fictional New England college in the '80's, but he has also ironically idealized the students' search for love and identity.

Sex and drugs are rampant while class attendance is rare. The parties are called pre-Saturday night, dressed-to-get-screwed, or the end of the world.

All these could occur in the same week. Coupling is random depending on how cute the target is; cocaine is heaped in a pile like a party dip.

When technically-a-virgin Lauren (Shannyn Sossaman) goes to her room with a film major, she finds herself being attacked by a townie while her film major friend films the act. Although chagrined by the turn of events, she seems unwilling to stop the violation. The hormonal and carnal inevitability of these parties underscores Ellis's Darwinian attitude toward modern collegiate romance.

When the lead carouser/pusher Sean Bateman (James Van Der Beek) fails at suicide, while a shy young girl who secretly loves him succeeds, "Rules of Attraction" deftly shows that hedonism is deadly and the search for love fruitless.(Hence the connection with Jean Renoir's 1939 nihilistic classic, "Rules of the Game.")

The suicides and sexual squalor lead to sly turnabouts for every character. The reversals after so much libertine action should jolt viewers into a sober view of youthful abandon. At the end, most of us realize the good but ignorant often die young and everyone else is lucky to have gotten out of college alive but not unscarred.

"Rules of Attraction" proves romance just isn't what it used to be.