17 October 2002 | Brogan
Either you'll love it, or hate it.
(PLOT SPOLIERS) For the past seventy some years, Hollywood has been a "getaway" for people to escape the cruel world of reality and venture into that fantasy world. The world were the bad guys get their justs, the hero gets the heroine (or vice versa), and the film ends with a happy note, you get up leave the theater feeling good again. But the European new wave directors like Jean Luc Godard and Werner Hertzog do whatever they can in their films, because they use the camera as a instrument, and make films the total opposite of the Hollywood studio films. Critics call those directors artist and brilliant for their work. Now one Hollywood director is doing what he can and put into his movies, only because he can, and Roger Avary shows that in his latest film THE RULES OF ATTRACTION.
Unlike the recent slew of "teen comedies" or college films, where there is the hero, the sex obsessed friend, the cute high achiever girl, the crusty old dean or teacher, etc. RULES OF ATTRACTION is a film more based on the reality of the college world. The reality where Sean Bateman (James Van Der Beek) believes that he can have sex with a girl while being sober. Where Lauren Hyde (Shannyn Sossamon) believes that her boyfriend, Victor (Kip Pardue) is in Europe and is very faithful to her. But Lauren does what she can to get ahead in school by giving her professor, Mr. Lawson (Eric Stolz) sexual pleasures. The world where Paul Denton (Ian Somerhalder) is a homosexual and feels that he can get any man he desires, and he feels that he can have a relationship with the hetrosexual Sean. And the real world, where Lara Holleran (Jessica Biel) has sex with the enitre football team.
This is harsh and cruel, bad sadly, it's the truth. This is what the real world is like, and director Roger Avary and writer Bret Easton Ellis do a excellent job showing it. When I watched RULES OF ATTRACTION the two things that blew my mind away was both the story and the directing. The story (which I described above) is pretty much the characters that you can't sympathize with, but instead you really know people like that. It's depressing to realize that, but sadly it's true. Then the directing by Roger Avary, who does a excellent job of telling one person's story, then rewinding everything and telling a different story from another character. Plus the brilliant scene of a split screen image of Sean and Lauren walking to the same class and as they talk to each other, the viewer is given the chance to see both full faces at the same time. Something that I haven't seen in film before.
There are images from RULES OF ATTRACTION that will be in my memory forever. One scene is how Lauren loses her virginity, the other is Laura dancing only in her underwear as she's about to get "gang bang" by the football team. But most of all, the extremely depressing sucide scene as the beautiful Harry Nilsson tune "Without You" is being played on the soundtrack. A very touching and emotional song for a strongly disturbing scene.
Lately I've been exposed to the French New Wave world of Jean Luc Godard and Jacuqes Demey, as well as the Neorealist world of Frederico Fellini and Michalengo Antonioni. Films that have symbolism about how society is on this planet. Film critics praise those films (especially those of Godard) as masterpieces and works of art. Now, those same hypocritcs are bashing RULES OF ATTRACTION as a pointless and cruel film. It is cruel, but it does make it's point. It does tell those now and those in years to come what the college life was really like in the early 21st century.
People and film critics usually scoff and critizie films that actually describe today's society, like FIGHT CLUB and AMERICAN PSYCHO (also written by Ellis). Critics would rather watch a film that takes place in La-La Land like LORD OF THE RINGS and GOSFORD PARK. A world that doesn't exist, but a world people would rather be in. Three years ago, I would hear people complain and say how horrible the movie FIGHT CLUB was. Now, there isn't a male college dorm room where I don't see a poster up for FIGHT CLUB (it's replacing the stereotyped John Belushi "Bluto" poster from ANIMAL HOUSE). Give it another three years, and RULES OF ATTRACTION posters will be up all over univeristy dorm rooms. This is going to be the next cult classic. Is it cruel, yes. Is it disturbing, yes (in fact I almost walked out after the first ten minutes). Is it brilliant and excellent, yes. And for that I applaud Roger Avary and Bret Easton Ellis. They are actually telling a story, the way the twenty something world is really like. A lot of people will be calling this a masterpiece a few years from now, it's October 2002, I'm calling it a masterpiece right now! ***** (out of five)