Originally created 11/05/02

Characters, plot lack depth in 'Attraction'


DIRECTOR: Roger Avary

RUNNING TIME: 110 minutes

MPAA RATING: R, for strong sexual content, drug use, language and violent images


During one of the last scenes of The Rules of Attraction, James Van der Beek's character, Sean Bateman, tells someone "You'll never know me." While the quote was directed toward a male friend of the character, the audience can't help but feel it was directed toward them.

The Rules of Attraction, directed by Roger Avary, is a quirky, off-beat, black comedy with stylish, eye-popping visuals. Based on the book of the same name by Bret Easton Ellis, the movie is centered on three college students who all lack maturity and depth.

Sean - the seducer.

Lauren - the virgin.

Paul - the bisexual.

The characters form a lustful triangle in which no desires are met, and obsessions are formed. Although there is a sense of who Sean, Lauren and Paul are, caring about them is questionable. Who would care about someone who considers himself an "emotional vampire, searching for their prey?"

The plot is as shallow as the characters - boy meets girl, boy falls for girl because she is a virgin, other boy lusts after first boy. If the movie had stuck closer to the story the book presented, the characters would be a bit more tolerable and the audience would understand the reasons for their actions.

Mr. Avary's production of Rules paints sexual relations as quick moments of lust with no long-term worries or doubts. In Mr. Easton's book, sexual relations are a bit truer to life. Lauren, who is not a virgin in the book, becomes pregnant by Sean. They face the task of having a child and caring for it while they realize that neither truly cared for one another. It was all just meaningless sex overshadowed with jealousy and obsession. Mr. Avary never takes the time out to explore this part of the book.

Mr. Van der Beek was never convincing as the drug-dealing, mentally unstable Sean. The part was a little too edgy for his Dawson Leery persona. Shannyn Sossamon's portrayal of the virginal Lauren was a little too flirtatious and slinky to pull off the innocent act. As the bisexual, frustrated Paul, Ian Somerhalder manages to show the confusing nature of his character's motives with ease and poise.

Minor appearances by Fred Savage, as a stoned college student, and Swoosie Kurtz and Faye Dunaway, as pill-popping savvy mothers, are highlights of the movie.

Although the movie triumphed in the artistic category, it lacked the book's character development, which it needed to succeed in attracting a positive audience. Maybe it should learn a few more rules and then try again.

Teen Board member Chelsey Willis, 17, is a senior at Lincoln County High School.


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