The Rules Of Attraction (2002)

(In theaters, October 2002) There are many things that don’t work in this film, but maybe the most offensive of them all is that for all the drug abuse, sexual perversions, loud music and overall hedonism of the story, it’s just not much fun. Too few naked coeds, scant enjoyment of illicit substances and sucky music combine with annoying characters and a lame “message” to produce what may very well be one of the most boring films of the year. The fault doesn’t lie with the actors, who do their best (though Shannyn Sossamon’s role is her weakest to date), but with writer/director/yadda Roger Avary, who mishandles some very promising material. I’m not talking about the original novel, which is reportedly quite different and rather loathsome if I’m to believe my Spy Notes on the book. Even with radical structural changes and simplifications, this adaptation feels directionless, meaningless and, yes, worthless. There are a few cute camera tricks, but don’t get too excited yet, because they don’t do much to support the story, nor add to them. It’s like if a film student wanted to try a whole lot of new (not-so-cool) tricks without having an idea why he should do so. The film lacks spark, energy and simple coolness. Doug Liman’s 1999 film Go outshines this film on all levels, from the soundtrack to the understated perversion, from the nihilism to the filmmaking. Too few, too late, too lame (“Nobody can really now another person?” Is that the best you can do for a moral?), there’s no real reason to see The Rules Of Attraction. I don’t even predict a cult following.

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