Prayer Focus

The Rules of Attraction

MPAA Rating: R for strong sexual content, drug use, language and violent images
not reviewed
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
Drama
Length:
1 hr. 50 min.
Year of Release:
2002
Shannyn Sossamon in “Rules of Attraction”

Starring: James Van Der Beek, Shannyn Sossamon, Jessica Biel, Ian Somerhalder, Kate Bosworth | Directed by: Roger Avary | Produced by: Greg Shapiro | Written by: Roger Avary | Distributor: Lions Gate Films

Viewer Comments
Positive
Positive—ROA is an extremely obscene movie about the self-destructive lives of American college students. That said, I (currently both a youth pastor and film student) waited in eager anticipation to see this film and wasn’t disappointed. And by that, I mean it met my expectations (I didn’t expect to be spiritually affirmed, though I was in a way); it was a very fair adaptation of Ellis’ book.

At the risk of sounding cliche, I think this movie might serve as a wake-up call to some in the pre-Believing world that sex, drugs, alcohol, and money offer no real fulfillment/contentment/meaning to life whatsoever; those things certainly aren’t glamorized. AND, without a lifestyle that actively pursues Truth—OUR lifestyles will eventually lead to OUR own demise.

There’s a scene in the movie where a character commits suicide. At first I thought this graphic scene messed with the pacing of the movie, but then I thought, “This is really what the movie’s all about.” Each character in the movie is living a life of perpetually eventual suicide. Each character self-loathes and because of this, lives a reckless, nihilistic, anything-goes-because-I’m-already-doomed, fatalistic lifestyle. The scene of suicide juxtaposed in the middle of the film serves as a metaphor for the entire movie.

Suicide (aka: self-destruction) takes many forms. If only they experienced Jesus, eh? ROA is not a movie about plot (the book isn’t about plot, either; in fact, there are no chapters)--but about characters we are never meant to connect with because their outlook on life is so extreme—so sterile—so base.

The movie doesn’t flow from A to Z as most formulaic movies do (intro-conclusion). No, this movie flows more like J to L; a snapshot in the middle of a greater timeline of these characters’ lives. And if you didn’t like any of the characters—good! The filmmakers succeeded! The film was intended to keep you at a distance in order for you to evaluate the foolishness of each characters’ choices. Going to see ROA is like going to a freak show at the circus. No one is mean

t to identify with the characters, we’re just supposed to look wide-eyed and thank God we’re not like them (no offense to the carnies!), and as a Christian viewer, feel compelled to free them from their shackles with the saving “unlock-all” skeleton key of Christ’s grace.

One of my roommates loved ROA, one of them hated it—so the opinions are all over the board on this one. After seeing it, I thought to myself, “This could be my life without Christ… Scary.” I’m thankful Christ is in my life, and after seeing ROA, am much more compelled to seek out pre-Believers and shower them with messages of hope and hugs of love.
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive / 3]
—Rob, age 22
Positive—This movie, unlike so many of the other teen party-type movies to emerge the past few years is descriptive and not prescriptive. This means that it offers an alternative view to the college dating/party scene. An honest one. It doesn’t depict all of the sex, drugs, and drinking as the fun passtime that so many films prescribe it to be. Rather, it wishes its viewers to see the deploribility and pitiful, empty, and wanton relationships between the characters.

Just what are the rules of attraction? That no one will ever know anyone else. They all just use each other for cheap thrills, but the movies three main characters are left wanting more: to actually “know” someone. To simply have a relationship with a romantic attraction. However, each painfully understand that it can never happen with the current college culture.

This film is certainly not for those looking for light entertainment or guiltless laughs, but insofar as it not only critiques a part of our nihilistic society, but hints at a longing for meaningful human relationships, this is an outstanding film.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 5]
—Drew Terry, age 20
Negative
Negative—Generally, I don’t become offended easily by movies and I can’t say that I was necessarily offended by this one. It was just too dark, pointless and had just too much focus on negative things for me to be even slightly interested. I found none of the characters to have any admirable qualities and walked out near the end due to boredom and disgust.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 1½]
—Jimmy Turwilliger, age 25
Movie Critics
…might have been better titled The Rules of Revulsion. An almost entirely worthless and pretentious adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’s 1987 sophomore novel…
—Globe and Mail
…It’s beyond comprehension why anyone would subject himself to “Rules of Attraction,” a film that presents so unappetizing an exercise in hedonism and nihilism that the ending feels like sheer release…
—Ed Blank, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review