The Rules of Attraction (film)

The Rules of Attraction (film)

Infobox Film
name = The Rules of Attraction"'

caption = "The Rules of Attraction" film poster
director = Roger Avary
producer = Greg Shapiro
writer = Novel:
Bret Easton Ellis
Roger Avary
narrator =
starring = James van der Beek
Shannyn Sossamon
Ian Somerhalder
Kip Pardue
Jessica Biel
music = tomandandy
cinematography = Robert Brinkmann
editing = Sharon Rutter
distributor = Lions Gate Films
released = 11 October, 2002
runtime = 110 mins
country = USA
language = English
budget = 4,000,000 USD
preceded_by =
website =
amg_id =
imdb_id = 0292644

"The Rules of Attraction" (2002) is a dark satirical film directed by Roger Avary, based on the novel of the same name by Bret Easton Ellis. It stars James Van Der Beek, Shannyn Sossamon, Ian Somerhalder, Jessica Biel, Kip Pardue and Clare Kramer.


The film takes place at the fictional Camden College, a liberal arts school in northeastern New Hampshire (the film was actually shot at the University of Redlands in California). The opening sequence introduces the three main characters - Lauren Hynde (Sossamon), Paul Denton (Somerhalder), and Sean Bateman (Van Der Beek), in turn. They are three college students at an "End of the World" party, and although they do not interact at the party, they share a certain apathy about the situations going on around them.


*Sean Bateman (James Van Der Beek) - A drug dealer who decides he is in love with Lauren. He eventually sleeps with her roommate, Lara, although he doesn't feel that this makes him unfaithful - "I only did it with her because I'm in love with you."
*Lauren Hynde (Shannyn Sossamon) - A virgin who is saving herself for Victor, her ex-boyfriend, who is traveling through Europe. She develops feelings for Sean which dissipate when she discovers him in bed with her roommate.
*Paul Denton (Ian Somerhalder) - An ex-boyfriend of Lauren's who has since recognized he's gay. He develops a sexual attraction to Sean, who eventually rejects him.
*Lara Holleran (Jessica Biel) - Lauren's sexually promiscuous roommate.
*Richard "Dick" Jared (Russell Sams) - His mother, Mrs. Jared, is a friend of Paul Denton's mother. While is it unsure exactly what their relationship was before the movie, he asks Paul to join him in the shower for "old time's sake". At the dinner scene, he repeatedly exclaims his name is no longer Richard, but Dick. He embarrasses the entire group, and after rubbing Paul's genitals with his foot, he leaves.
*Victor Johnson (Kip Pardue) - Lauren's promiscuous ex-boyfriend who, upon returning to school from his trip to Europe, cannot remember who she is.
*Rupert Guest (Clifton Collins Jr.) - A high strung, hotheaded drug dealer who is owed a large debt by Sean.
*Mitchell Allen (Thomas Ian Nicholas) - A weaselly cohort who seems to idolize brutish Victor. He sponges off Sean for the drugs. It's also implied he and Paul once had a sexual relationship which he is now in denial of.
*Marc (Fred Savage) - A heroin addicted student who owes Sean money for drugs.
*Food Service Girl (Theresa Wayman) - An unnamed character who writes love notes to Sean Bateman. Bateman believes the notes come from Lauren. The actual author of the notes commits suicide after witnessing Bateman going off with Lara. Although he looks forward to her love notes Bateman never knows she existed.
*Kelly (Kate Bosworth)- Girl from party that Sean takes back to his dorm room.


The film was one of the first studio motion pictures to be edited using Final Cut Pro. Using a beta version of FCP 3, it proved to the film industry that successful 3:2 pulldown matchback to 24fps could be achieved with a consumer off-the-shelf product. Roger Avary, the film's director became the spokesperson for FCP, appearing in print ads worldwide. His advocacy of the product gave confidence to mainstream editors like Walter Murch that the product was ready for "prime time." [] []

The film was nominated for Best Film by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) Media Awards.

Releases and versions

Multiple versions of the film exist, as cuts were made to receive less strict ratings in the U.S. and other areas.

The original rating that Lions Gate Entertainment received from the MPAA was an NC-17, but director Roger Avary made cuts to the film in order to achieve an R rating.

The Australian version of the film is uncut and retains the 22 seconds that were removed in the U.S. to receive the R rating.

The French 2-Disc Special Edition entitled 'Les Lois De L'Attraction' is the longest known version available. It contains a small number of scenes not shown in the U.K. & U.S. DVDs and also includes more footage of the suicide scene (including the girl actually cutting into her wrists, instead of just seeing her reaction) It also includes more content in commentary tracks than the other DVD's available.

The full version was shown at UK cinemas. However, the BBFC used its power as censor under the Video Recordings Act 1984 to reduce the suicide scene, even at the highest (18) rating. []

Changes from the book

As with many adaptations from one medium to another, many changes were made to "The Rules of Attraction". These include:
*An implementation of a "beginning is the end," plot structure, where we are introduced to the characters at a party which is chronologically at the end of the events of the movie.
*The book takes place during the 1985–1986 school year. The movie is updated to a more contemporary time period (though ambiguous) but features music from the era.
*Many minor characters are eliminated (such as Roxanne and Franklin).
*Lauren Hynde being portrayed in the movie as an energetic virgin, while in the book she is seen sleeping with multiple partners.
*Lauren loses her virginity in the beginning of both versions. However, they are during different periods of time. In the novel it is recounted as taking place during her freshman year, while in the timeline of the movie it is after most of the events of the movie have taken place. However it is still under the same circumstances ( Date raped while semi-conscious with a local townie while a film student she was earlier flirting with films it with a camcorder. )
*A new character, Lara Holleran, is a version of Lauren's roommate from the novel, Judy. She is highly promiscuous and fills much of the role the version of Lauren from the novel used to.
*Lauren and Sean never date, nor have sex, in the movie. Or if they do, we do not see it, because at one point, Lauren says, "It's over."
*In the novel, Sean and Paul's relationship (or lack of one) remains ambiguous. It is referenced in Paul's narrations, but not Sean's. The movie portrays this as a masturbation fantasy of Paul's while he stares at a passed out Sean. In the book, Paul mentions they had sex several times and sometimes describes every minute detail.
*Lauren discovers the girl who committed suicide in the dorm bathroom, as opposed to Roxanne in the novel.
*Lauren never becomes pregnant, nor gets an abortion in the movie. The relating event (her and Sean going on a cocaine-fueled road trip) also never occurs.
*Sections of the text from the novel are preserved, but are presented within a different context. Sean's description of having sex with Lauren for the first time in the novel, is then narrated in relation to the girl at the beginning of the movie.
*Sean never visits his dying father, nor physically encounters his brother, Patrick Bateman, in the movie, only mentioning him on the telephone (which happened in the book anyway).
*Although the love triangle happens simultaneously in the movie, Paul and Sean's relationship is ended when Lauren and Sean's begins at the Dressed to Get Screwed Party, half-way through the novel.
*The character of Mr. Lawson (Eric Stoltz) does not appear in the book. However in the book there is a lecturer that Sean is very suspicious of, Professor Vittorio who teaches poetry.
*Sean's drug and alcohol intake is much greater in the novel. He spends most of the novel intoxicated.
*In the novel, Paul has a pseudo-sexual encounter with a young woman, illustrating that he is bisexual rather than homosexual. This does not happen in the film, however it is hinted that he and Lauren were once involved.

DVD commentary

Prop comic Carrot Top recorded a commentary track for the DVD of the film. He had no involvement with the making of the film, and states during the commentary that the reason he did it was because "they couldn't find anyone else to do it". He often comments on the attractiveness of each actress, begs Eric Stoltz for work everytime he's on screen, and even occasionally sings along with the songs in the film, all the while making a number of self-deprecating jokes.

ee also

*"Less Than Zero"
*"American Psycho"

External links

* [ The Rules of Attraction] at Empire Magazine
* [ L.A. Weekly Interview with Avary]
* [,hoberman,39167,20.html "The Rules of Attraction"] at The Village Voice

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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