Upon learning who the creative forces were behind the 2002 dark comedy The Rules of Attraction, I will fully concede that my expectations for this film were gargantuan. For one thing, the film was an adaptation of a Bret Easton Ellis novel. Ellis also wrote the source material for two films I personally adored, Less than Zero and American Psycho. In addition, the gentleman who wrote the film for the screen and directed the project, Roger Avary, was the co-writer of Pulp Fiction and the immensely underrated Killing Zoe. Throw in a considerably competent cast of actors (including a brief cameo from one of my favorites, Faye Dunaway), and it would appear that this film has a winning formula.
Unfortunately, these elements when combined did not produce a masterpiece. Granted, Rules of Attraction is not a substandard film; in fact, at times it is a highly entertaining and devious entry into the ever-popular black comedy genre. But it certainly is one of the weaker adaptations of Ellis, and Avary has been involved with the development of a number of superior projects. For me viewing this film was similar to expecting filet mignon and being served a New York strip instead; it didn't leave a bitter taste in my mouth, but it still is not what I was hoping for.
The film itself is really the story of three very different youths who encounter one another at the fictional Camden College. Sean Bateman (James Van Der Beek) is a drug dealing, self-destructive teen who has amassed a wealth of sexual encounters with the women on campus. Lauren Hynde (Shannyn Sossaman) is a beautiful young woman who also happens to be a virgin; she is torn between her interest in Bateman and her devotion to her traveling boyfriend, Victor. The third, Victor Johnson, is a young gay male who is infatuated with Bateman as well. The film illustrates this rather confusing love triangle, and the numerous complications those relationships present.