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The Rules Of Attraction

Starring: James Van Der Beek, Shannyn Sossamon, Ian Somerhalder, Jessica BielKip Pardue, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Kate Bosworth, Fred Savage and Eric Stoltz.
Directed/adapted by: Roger Avery
Novel: Bret Easton
Rated: R

The Rules of Attraction has some mighty fine acting going on - too bad they just don't go anywhere. Don't get me wrong; stories without plot can be fun. A glimpse into a surreal everyday world celluloid peeping Tom er Janet. But when the stories presented, however artsy fartsy-ly shot, are over cynical and riddled with general unhappiness, one tends to nit pick.

13 Conversations last season did the same thing. It pained me to pooh-pooh Alan Arkin's film. The acting was great but at the end of the frames you were left depressed and without any real motive for the film. Not even the simplest of entertainment values. Or Freudian explanations your mind could ponder. This is true also of The Rules of Attraction.

Dawson Creek's good boy James Van Der Beek is the film's star along with pixie Shannyn Sossamon and ex model hunk Ian Somerhalder. I have never seen Dawson's Creek but I gather from the gasps that permeated the theater that blowjobs and fornication are not subjects the primetime WB show focuses on…

Roger Avery has adapted the spicy say-it-with-venom college novel by Bret Easton. Those who like fluffy and puffy sugar coated college films with lighthearted dating sequences be warned. I only hope this is not a true depiction of today's campuses.

We meet the cast of wretched souls at Camden College. Any college USA really. As they struggle through the pains of dating, socializing and growing. What makes Rules so disturbing is none of these people are really happy, or for that matter, very good people.

There's Lauren (Shannyn Sossamon), who is just trying to get through to the day when her estranged boyfriend Victor (Kip Pardue) returns from his gallivanting abroad…Paul (Ian Somerhalder) the openly gay coed that has gone smitten with the diabolical man pig Sean (James Van Der Beek). Sean is an emotional vampire. He feeds off the sadness of others. Sadness he, pretty much, creates. Lara (Jessica Biel) is the unapologetic party girl. The one we all know in some way.

The characters inter mingle and perform for us. But the story leans towards the emptiness of trying to fit in. All these folks seem to do is party, fu** and swear. After a few frames it gets old.
Ah, but there's a snag in the film. These young developing actors each give fantastic performances. Directed by Avery, they show depth and exactness in the superficial souls of their characters. So if you're a fan of any of these people you may want to suffer through it.

Especially James Van Der Beek. Here the real actor James Van Der Beek gets to show his stuff. His character Sean Bateman is a bad bad loser that has been masked with one of those angelic façades and stereotypical all American saunters that tricks you into automatically believing he's a go-getter. Yeah, a go-getter of drugs and sex! Yeah. See below that "look" is pure horse manure.

Shannyn Sossamon, who looks like a dna clone of Winona Ryder, oozes a likeable presence and is the only character we even remotely care about. She's got a future in this for sure. Somebody give her something worthy!

Ian Somerhalder, who was a model a couple of years ago, is great as the confused conniving Paul. He steals every scene he graces.

Short appearances by Eric Stolz, Faye Dunnaway, Fred Savage Swoosie Kurtz ad to the stellar performances in an annoying sea of mediocre story telling.

I admit it; I don't care for this film. The actors are great but the story? Eh. See it if you must. But be warned there's no redeeming value to these "people."

Snack recommendation: McDonald's and Beer

 

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