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The rules of attraction - James Van Der Beek, Shannyn Sossamon, Jessica Biel, Roger Avery

Threat advisory: Elevated - Significant risk of entertaining activities

Movie propaganda

Roger Avery's narrative-bending screenplay is based on the novel by Bret Easton Ellis (American psycho) and follows the romantic and sexual escapades of Patrick Bateman's younger brother Sean, and his circle of young, wealthy, self-consciously bohemian university friends.

Set in a small, affluent liberal-arts university in present-day New England, USA, where three students with no plans for the future - or even the present - become entangled in a curious romantic triangle. This is a startlingly funny, kaleidoscopic story that follows the complex, interpolated mating rituals of modern American university students, mixing sex, drugs, music and mayhem into a unique structure of multiple narratives.

Theatrical propaganda posters

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Target demographic movie keyword propaganda

  • Film drama romance sex university

Persons of interest

  • James Van Der Beek .... Sean Bateman
  • Shannyn Sossamon .... Lauren Hynde
  • Jessica Biel .... Lara Holleran
  • Ian Somerhalder .... Paul Denton
  • Kate Bosworth .... Kelly
  • Fred Savage .... Marc
  • Kip Pardue .... Victor Johnson
  • Clifton Collins Junior .... Rupert Guest
  • Thomas Ian Nicholas .... Mitchell Allen
  • Eric Stoltz .... Mr Lance Lawson
  • Faye Dunaway .... Mrs Eve Denton
  • Joel Michaely .... Raymond
  • Clare Kramer .... Candice
  • Swoosie Kurtz .... Mrs Mimi Jared
  • Jay Baruchel .... Harry
  • Russell Sams .... Richard "Dick" Jared
  • Bret Easton Ellis .... Author
  • Roger Avery .... Screenwriter
  • Roger Avery .... Director

Cinematic intelligence sources

Intelligence analyst

Special Agent Matti

Theatrical report

The rules of attraction is like American pie with sad characters rather than funny ones. Sad as in pathetic not depressed (although they're all that, too). Their badly aimed infatuations (everyone wants to be with someone they can't have) make it very difficult to empathise with them (how do you empathise with someone you want to slap?) and the messes they make of their lives puts you firmly in the laughing at rather than the laughing with genre.

These people are just plain fucked.

Roger Avery's direction plays around with time in the same vein but with different application as Memento. It's like someone got stoned at the Big Brother house and started playing with the remote control. Forward, play, rewind, change rooms. Forward, play, rewind, change rooms. It's an interesting technique but has nothing to do with the story. It's almost as if Roger is showing off how "alternative" he can be.

But the bigger question is, "Why is Sean Bateman Patrick Bateman's younger brother?" or, to put it another way, "Was this decision motivated by art or by marketing?" The answer is, "A bit of both". American psycho was so successful that it threatened to make Bret Easton Ellis a one-hit wonder and The rules of attraction doesn't argue against that thesis. A self-centred young man with a predilection for living outside the rules... which brother (and story) does that describe? In point of fact, Sean is just Patrick: the prequel.

Oh well, at least there are plenty of tit shots, and that's why you want to watch a film like this. There's one dick shot but it's in a dark room and only lasts for a couple of frames. Like you didn't expect that.

Media intelligence (DVD)

  • Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound
  • Languages: English
  • Picture: Widescreen 16:9
  • Special features:
    • Commentaries: 3
    • Trailers: Australian teaser, Australian theatrical
  • Subtitles: English, English captions

Security censorship classification

R 18+ (Adult themes, drug use)

Surveillance time

111 minutes (1:51 hours)

Not for public release in Australia before date

Film: 20 February 2003
DVD rental: 9 July 2003
VHS rental: 9 July 2003
DVD retail: 9 July 2003
VHS retail: 9 July 2003

Cinema surveillance images

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