Rules of Attraction [2002]

A not-quite dazzling array of cinematic tricks (split screens, freeze-frames, running the film backwards, rapid editing, etc.) are used to depict college students floundering in the pursuit of love and meaning. Drugs, blow jobs, pornography, booze, rape, masturbation, '80s pop tunes, beatings, suicide, attempted suicide, faked suicide, loss of bladder control, and trite pseudo-philosophy are on display as pretty young actors with squeaky-clean images (like James Van Der Beek and Jessica Biel) attempt to dirty themselves up. The Rules of Attraction comes to life for about five minutes when an actor named Russell Sams appears for an outrageous restaurant scene, then slumps back into terminal disaffection when he departs. Also featuring Shannyn Sossamon, Faye Dunaway, Swoozie Kurtz, Ian Somerhalder, Kate Bosworth, Eric Stolz, Fred Savage, and many strikingly good-looking young people. The filmmakers are attempting to depict the vacuousness of today's youth but only succeed in portraying the void in their own hearts. --Bret Fetzer

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