The Rules of Attraction (film): Wikis


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The Rules of Attraction

Theatrical poster
Directed by Roger Avary
Produced by Roger Avary
Greg Shapiro
Written by Roger Avary
Bret Easton Ellis (Novel)
Starring James van der Beek
Shannyn Sossamon
Ian Somerhalder
Jessica Biel
Russell Sams
Kip Pardue
Clifton Collins Jr.
Thomas Ian Nicholas
with Faye Dunaway
and Eric Stoltz
Music by tomandandy
Cinematography Robert Brinkmann
Editing by Sharon Rutter
Studio Kinsgate Films
Distributed by Lions Gate Entertainment
Release date(s) October 11, 2002 (2002-10-11)
Running time 110 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $4 million
Gross revenue $11,819,244

The Rules of Attraction is a 2002 dark satirical film directed by Roger Avary, based on the novel of the same name by Bret Easton Ellis. It stars James van der Beek, Shannyn Sossamon, Ian Somerhalder, Jessica Biel, Russell Sams, and Kip Pardue.



The film takes place at the fictional Camden College, a liberal arts school in northeastern New Hampshire (the film was actually shot at the University of Redlands in California).

The opening sequence introduces the three main characters - Sean (James van der Beek), Lauren (Shannyn Sossamon), and Paul (Ian Somerhalder), in turn. They are three college students at an "End of the World" party, and although they don't interact at the party, they share a certain apathy about the situations they end up in.

Cast of characters

  • James van der Beek as Sean Bateman, a drug dealer who decides he is in love with Lauren. He eventually sleeps with her roommate, Lara, although he doesn't feel that this makes him unfaithful - "I only did it with her because I'm in love with you."
  • Shannyn Sossamon as Lauren Hynde, a virgin who is saving herself for Victor, her ex-boyfriend, who is travelling through Europe. She develops feelings for Sean which dissipate when she discovers him in bed with her roommate. So eventually loses her virginity with a 'townie' at a party.
  • Ian Somerhalder as Paul Denton, an ex-boyfriend of Lauren's who has since recognized he's bisexual. He develops a sexual attraction to Sean, who eventually rejects him.
  • Jessica Biel as Lara Holleran, Lauren's sexually promiscuous roommate.
  • Russell Sams as Richard "Dick" Jared, now only answering to the name "Dick", is an old friend and former fuck buddy of Paul's. His mother is a friend of Paul's mother.
  • Kip Pardue as Victor Johnson, Lauren's promiscuous ex-boyfriend who, upon returning to school from his trip to Europe, cannot remember who she is.
  • Clifton Collins Jr. as Rupert Guest, a high-strung, hotheaded drug dealer who is owed a large debt by Sean.
  • Thomas Ian Nicholas as Mitchell Allen, a weaselly cohort who seems to idolize brutish Victor. He sponges off Sean for the drugs. It's also implied he and Paul once had a sexual relationship which he is now in denial of.
  • Fred Savage as Marc, a heroin-addicted student who owes Sean money for drugs.
  • Theresa Wayman as Food Service Girl, an unnamed character who writes Sean love notes, who believes the notes come from Lauren. She commits suicide after witnessing Sean going off with Lara.
  • Kate Bosworth as Kelly, a girl from party that Sean takes back to his dorm room.
  • Joel Michaely as Raymond
  • Jay Baruchel as Harry
  • Clare Kramer as Candice
  • Faye Dunaway as Mrs. Denton
  • Swoosie Kurtz as Mrs. Jared
  • Eric Stoltz as Mr. Lawson
  • Ron Jeremy Hyatt as Piano player at 'At the Player'
  • Casper Van Dien (deleted scene) as Patrick Bateman


The film was one of the first studio motion pictures to be edited using Final Cut Pro. Using a beta version of FCP 3, it proved to the film industry that successful 3:2 pulldown matchback to 24fps could be achieved with a consumer off-the-shelf product. Roger Avary, the film's director became the spokesperson for FCP, appearing in print ads worldwide. His advocacy of the product gave confidence to mainstream editors like Walter Murch that the product was ready for "prime time."[1][2]

The Rules of Attraction was the only film in Los Angeles to continue shooting on 9/11. They were shooting the End of the World Party.

The film was nominated for Best Film by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) Media Awards.


Much of the source music and score for the film is by the duo of Andy Milburn and Tom Hadju, collectively known as tomandandy. Additional songs that are in the film are from the era in which the book takes place, including the Cure, Love and Rockets, Blondie, the Go-Go's, Yazoo and Erasure. However the film is non-era specific, including current songs by The Rapture, Milla Jovovich and Der Wolf. There is also the curious addition of French calypso pop by Serge Gainsbourg.

The film is mixed in Mono SR.

Releases, versions, and reception

Multiple versions of the film exist, as cuts were made so it could receive less restrictive ratings in the U.S. and other areas.

Lions Gate originally received an NC-17 rating from the MPAA, but director Roger Avary made cuts to the film in order to achieve an R rating, for "strong sexual content, drug use, language, and violent images".

The Australian version of the film is uncut, retaining 22 seconds that were removed in the R-rated US version.

The French 2-Disc Special Edition entitled Les Lois De L'Attraction is the longest known version available. It contains a small number of scenes not shown in the US and UK DVDs and also includes more footage of the suicide scene (including the girl actually cutting into her wrists, instead of just seeing her reaction). It also includes more content in commentary tracks than the other DVDs available.

The uncut version was shown at UK cinemas. However, the BBFC used its power as censor under the Video Recordings Act 1984 to reduce the suicide scene, even at the highest (18+) rating.[3]

Critical reception

The Rules of Attraction, like much of Bret Easton Ellis' work, has become highly polarizing. It received decidedly mixed reviews—getting 44% "fresh" reviews from Rotten Tomatoes,[4] and faring slightly better on Metacritic, getting a score of 50 out of 100 from reviewers, though with an average score of 7.0/10 from users.[5]

Box office

It made $11,819,244 worldwide on a budget of $4 million, thus making the film a minor box office success.[6]

Cult following

Though the film has inspired mixed critical reaction, it has become something of a cult classic, which was covered by The A.V. Club for their "New Cult Canon" feature.[7] In an April 2009 interview, Bret Easton Ellis stated that the film adaptation of The Rules of Attraction came closest of all the movies based on his books to capturing his sensibility and recreating the world he created in his novels.[8] In 2009, the film was shown on Film4 as part of the "Great Adaptations" series.

Home release

The DVD was released on February 18, 2003 by Lions Gate Entertainment.

The DVD includes trailers and an audio commentary by Carrot Top, despite having nothing to do with the making of the film, does it because "they couldn't find anyone else to do it." He often comments on the attractiveness of each actress, begs Eric Stoltz for work every time he's on screen, and even occasionally sings along with the songs in the film, all the while making a number of self-deprecating jokes.

Changes from the book

As with many adaptations from one medium to another, many changes were made to The Rules of Attraction. These include:

  • An implementation of a "beginning is the end," plot structure, where we are introduced to the characters at a party which is chronologically at the end of the events of the movie.
  • The book takes place during the 1985–1986 school year. The movie is updated to a more contemporary time period (though ambiguous); Sean is seen masturbating to, what he describes as, "broadband-speed internet porn", which did not become widely available until the late 90's/early 00's.
  • Many minor characters are eliminated, such as Roxanne and Franklin.
  • Lauren is portrayed in the film as an energetic virgin, while in the book, she is seen sleeping with multiple partners.
  • Lauren loses her virginity in the beginning of both versions. However, they are during different periods of time. In the novel it is recounted as taking place during her freshman year, while in the timeline of the movie it is after most of the events of the movie have taken place. However it is still under the same circumstances (date raped while semi-conscious with a local townie while a film student she was earlier flirting with films it with a camcorder).
  • A new character, Lara Holleran, is a version of Judy, Lauren's roommate from the novel. She is highly promiscuous and fills much of the role the version of Lauren from the novel used to.
  • Lauren and Sean never date, nor have sex, in the film. But if they do, we do not see it, because at one point, Lauren says, "It's over."
  • In the novel, Sean and Paul's relationship (or lack of one) remains ambiguous. It is referenced in Paul's narrations, but not Sean's. The movie portrays this as a masturbation fantasy of Paul's while he stares at a passed out Sean. In the book, Paul mentions they had sex several times and sometimes describes every minute detail.
  • Lauren discovers the girl who committed suicide in the dorm bathroom, as opposed to Roxanne in the novel.
  • Lauren never becomes pregnant, nor gets an abortion in the film. The relating event (her and Sean going on a cocaine-fueled road trip) also never occurs.
  • Sections of the text from the novel are preserved, but are presented within a different context. Sean's description of having sex with Lauren for the first time in the novel, is then narrated in relation to the girl at the beginning of the movie.
  • Sean never visits his dying father, nor physically encounters his brother, Patrick Bateman, in the movie, only mentioning him on the telephone (which happened in the book anyway). However, there is a report that there is a deleted scene in which the character of Patrick is featured, played by actor Casper Van Dien.
  • Although the love triangle happens simultaneously in the movie, Paul and Sean's relationship is ended when Lauren and Sean's begins at the Dressed to Get Screwed Party, half-way through the novel.
  • The character of Mr. Lawson does not appear in the book. However, in the book, there is a lecturer, that Sean is very suspicious of, Professor Vittorio, who teaches poetry.
  • Sean's drug and alcohol intake is much greater in the novel. He spends most of the novel intoxicated.
  • In the novel, Paul has a pseudo-sexual encounter with a young woman, illustrating that he is bisexual rather than homosexual. This does not happen in the film, however it is hinted that he and Lauren were once involved.

See also


External links

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