A review of “The Rules of Attraction” by Jeanne Aufmuth


Stars: *

Rating: R for drug use, sex, language, general perversion

Run Time: 1 hour, 44 minutes



Brett Easton Ellis is the king of scabrous literature, never more evident than in this misogynistic piece of adapted filth that attempts to pass itself off as hip, young adult entertainment.

The quixotic setting is a small, affluent, New England liberal arts school known as Camden College.  Camden’s student body appears to be composed of spoiled, alcoholic teens who want nothing more than to engage in such illustrious academia as Oral Sex Workshops and Gang Bang 101.

The big man on campus (a legend in his own mind) is Sean Bateman (James Van Der Beek), whose passing association with his own feelings renders him an emotional vampire.  Sean is the key figure in moving drugs on campus, with a side specialty in moving in on unsuspecting coeds.  Joining Sean by scant degrees of separation are Paul (Ian Somerhalder), a brilliant libertine for whom surface appearances mean all, and Lauren (Shannyn Sossamon), a delusional brainiac perched on the precipice of Camden’s social apocalypse.

Narrative consists of a series of date rapes, drunken sexual conquests (culminating in spontaneous vomiting), and fabulous campus fetes with such titillating designations as The Dress to Get Screwed Party.  Punctuating the fun are abstract plot tangents featuring the college staff (who propose GPA enhancements in exchange for extracurricular activities) and dear old Mom and Dad, indulging in cocktails and prescription drugs to excess.

I’d like to be able to chalk up my disgust to the fact that I’m the mother of a female college freshman.  But aside from the fact that Van Der Beek succeeds in his aim to shed his ubiquitous pretty-boy image (the WB’s “Dawson Creek”), and director Roger Avery has triumphed over a 15-year effort to bring Ellis’ withering social dissection to the big screen, there’s nothing to recommend but puerile and superficial storytelling that nauseates and repels.