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2002-10-31 - 1:11 p.m.

Rules of Attraction - The Definitive review.

This movie was clever. Realizing that it could go nowhere since neither did the book, Roger Avery went with an excellent soundtrack and clever camera tricks. Smoke and Mirrors that, along with a very good cast, worked. Until it was over and the illusion was exposed. Like all those years ago reading the novel for the first time, I was left disappointed. The cleverness initially captivates and amuses, but then becomes too much of a good thing. Maybe that’s what Avery wanted. Or what he is telling the girls (and boys) on his casting couch. “See, what I was trying to expose with the soundtrack and the camera tricks was that there was nothing to these people, just vain fatuous self indulgent freaks” “Hee hee, what does fatchewus mean?” There are scenes, lacking in digital effects that stand out. Funny in a disturbing way, but nothing obviously contrived about them. Like the many sex (and masturbation) scenes. Or the inevitable suicide. It’s the more tender moments that I liked. Waking up the morning after an attempt to OD on cold medication to find out you’ve wet the bed. Giving your Professor a hummer. Taking a tripped out friend to the hospital. These moments were slow and genuinely funny, rather than relying on the split screens and time tricks that were overused throughout. I think that the whole movie could have been shot this way, and been better off for it.

The movie throws a lot of eye candy out there. A LOT. Regardless of sexual orientation, there will be something you like. The film is structured around parties, and so of course, debauchery reigns supreme. That said, the performances by the actors in this film were excellent. It’s a well acted movie. Actors that I care little to nothing about managed to pleasantly surpise me. Especially Jessica Beal and Shannyn Sossoman. It seemed that most of the characters played against type, giving refreshing performances (Ashton Kushter and Sean William Scott should be calling their agents). The large amount of skin probably means that there will be extended and deleted scenes as well as an unrated version released on DVD. I imagine waiting for that is probably worth it. At this point, regardless, anyone wanting to see this film would have already seen it. I doubt I’ll buy the version on DVD, but I do intend to purchase the soundtrack. In a way, I’m glad that this film was not a critical and commercial success. This way we don’t need to worry too much about seeing any Christopher Rice novels onscreen. They can just go straight to video.

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