The Rules of Attraction (2002)

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Released 9-Jul-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Menu Animation & Audio
Featurette-Anatomy Of A Scene
Teaser Trailer
Theatrical Trailer
Audio Commentary-Shannyn Sossamon (Actor), et al
Audio Commentary-Sharon Seymour (Production Designer), et al
Audio Commentary-Sharon Rutter (Editor), et al
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 106:10
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (67:37) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Roger Avary
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring James Van Der Beek
Shannyn Sossamon
Ian Somerhalder
Kip Pardue
Russell Sams
Case ?
RPI $39.95 Music Tomandandy


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Auto Pan & Scan Encoded English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes, of every conceivable substance.
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    "From the demented minds that brought you Pulp Fiction and American Psycho".

    While a trailer slogan like that would certainly do marketing wonders for any film, it doesn't do audience expectations any favours in this case. A great number of my friends were disappointed because they attended this film expecting exactly the above. However, apart from some instantly recognisable screenwriting from director Roger Avary, The Rules Of Attraction bears little resemblance to his work with Tarantino. Similarly, anyone familiar with the writings of Bret Easton Ellis will already know the great differences between this and the author's later work. Still, there is much to be gained from this challenging piece of filmmaking.

    Brett Easton Ellis' story follows New England College student Sean Bateman (brother of American Psycho's Patrick Bateman) through a love triangle involving himself (James Van Der Beek), the virginal Lauren (Shannyn Sossamon) and shrewd bi-sexual Paul (Ian Somerhalder). Lauren herself is pining after the unassuming Vincent (Kip Pardue), whom she believes to be her boyfriend. Each character is living under some kind of romantic illusion directed at their ideal love interest, and all the while engaging in unfulfilling, casual sexual encounters with ultimately uninterested partners. What begins as an exploration of the desires of youth becomes a roller coaster ride of emotions from the hilarious to the disturbingly uncomfortable.

    While Avary's treatment may not satisfy fans of Ellis' novel, the film does manage to successfully convey the confused and sometimes disjointed humour present in the original story. All the key scenes are present, particularly one in which (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) a college friend is hilariously thought to be overdosing and is rushed to hospital, only to recover to the voice of a doctor pronouncing him dead. Much of the novel's ambiguity is also intact, with many sequences clearly left open to interpretation.

    Roger Avary's imaginative directing techniques are a highlight, with the use of reversed footage to smoothly illustrate the passing of time and many other creative scenes utilising split screen techniques, one of which is the focus of a very good featurette included in the extras.

    I was surprised to hear during the varying commentaries that many of the scenes used in the final cut of the film actually differed to those in the final script because Avary encouraged the cast to ad lib on the set. The resulting film is surprisingly solid, and Van Der Beek's convincing performance changed my opinion of him entirely. Also, an hour long documentary is reportedly in the works from Avary, covering a trip to Europe which involved shooting key scenes with Kip Pardue that yielded more than 45 hours of footage! Many deleted scenes are also mentioned, which leads me to suspect that a two disc special edition may be somewhere in the works, hopefully with a script-to-screen function.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    We have been given a very good transfer of this film.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, 16x9 enhanced and encoded with auto Pan & Scan information.

    The level of sharpness is very good, apart from some shots that were obviously zoomed in post production (99:36). Shadow detail is excellent, as is evident in the many night-time sequences and dimly lit parties. No low level noise is apparent.

    Colours are rich and show no signs of bleeding. Some digital grading was used in a number of scenes to accentuate moods and the change of seasons. This is further detailed in the editor's audio commentary.

    No MPEG artefacts of any kind were evident. Aliasing was barely noticeable, and although some film artefacts were visible around scene transitions in the form of small black and white specks (40:00), they were not overly distracting.

    There are no subtitles available on this RSDL disc. The layer change (67:37) is well placed in a silent, black scene transition and is barely noticeable.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Being predominately a dialogue driven movie, there is little to get excited about audio-wise.

    There are five audio tracks available on this DVD. The English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is the default and we have a second option of Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo. The three remaining tracks are audio commentaries, which are detailed in the extras.

    The dialogue in the film appears to be a mixture of location audio and ADR. Although the spoken word is always clear and easy to understand, audio sync is an issue. This is most evident in the fifth scene (21:08), with Rupert and Sean's dialogue noticeably behind the video. I found it most distracting.

    The music is credited to film score gurus tomandandy. As with all their contributions to film soundtracks, the sounds blend in almost unnoticeably and provide a consistent parallel with the on-screen emotion, ranging from eerie and disturbing to all-out party music. Even some Chinese and German hip-hop is used to great effect.

    Surround activity is completely minimal, which is possibly why the Region 1 release chose extras over the 5.1 mix. The only time I noticed surround usage was during a particularly disturbing scene (70:40) which slowly distorts the accompanying music into an all-consuming screeching noise, enveloping the listener from all directions. I do believe a Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded track could have achieved this just as effectively.

    I noted subwoofer activity only during scenes with a loud music score. As they say for dialogue heavy films like this, less is more.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    A good selection of valid extras are available.

Menu

    The colourfully animated menus are 16x9 enhanced. Most are accompanied by a Dolby Digital 2.0 audio clip of music from tomandandy.

Featurette - Anatomy Of A Scene (26:05)

    Director Roger Avary and an assortment of other crew members present an interesting dissection of a very complex scene from the film.

Teaser Trailer (1:11)

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio, this trailer is a tongue-in-cheek parody of the A Clockwork Orange theatrical trailer.

Theatrical Trailer (1:54)

    This is also presented in an aspect of 1.33:1, with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. It gives a satisfactory taste of what the movie is like, without diving too deeply into its themes.

Audio Commentary - Shannyn Sossamon (Actor), Theresa Wayman (Actor), Kip Pardue (Actor), Clifton Collins, Jr. (Actor).

    Amazing revelations in this commentary track don't extend beyond the usual "this was my first day of filming" or "I had to retake this scene so many times". There is no interaction between the actors, although they sometimes finish each others' sentences via clever editing. Uncomfortable silences abound. Definitely not the kind of commentary you would listen to more than once.

Audio Commentary - Sharon Seymour (Production Designer), Ian Somerhalder (Actor), Russell Sams (Actor), Ron Jeremy (Himself).

    We get a little insight into the making of the film from the production designer, including the various locations that were used and some related stories. There are some very long, tedious pauses here. Actors Ian Somerhalder and Russell Sams were recorded together and deliver many entertaining tales related to the film. Porn star Ron Jeremy talks briefly about his friendship with Roger Avary and the appearances he has made in most of the director's films.

Audio Commentary - Sharon Rutter (Editor), Eric Szmanda (Actor).

    These are by far the best speakers of all the commentaries, with plenty of interesting insights and amusing stories. Again, there is no interaction between the two on this commentary.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 version misses out on:

    The Region 1 version misses out on:

    If you prefer extras over transfer quality, then the Region 1 version is for you. Regions 4 and 2 seem to have received the thicker end of the wedge as far as audio quality goes. Combined with our PAL transfer, I give the Region 4 two thumbs up. (By the way, who the hell is Carrot Top?)

Summary

    The Rules Of Attraction is a challenging film, and will prove rewarding to those that appreciate it for its humour and vision. It has been given a very good DVD presentation in Region 4.

    The video transfer is very good, although some noticeable film artefacts are present.

    The audio quality is good, considering this is a dialogue-driven film.

    The extras are great and pertinent to the film.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Rob Giles (readen de bio, bork, bork, bork.)
Sunday, May 25, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-525, using Component output
DisplayPanasonic TX76PW10A 76cm Widescreen 100Hz. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVR-2802 Dolby EX/DTS ES Discrete
SpeakersOrpheus Aurora lll Mains (bi-wired), Rears, Centre Rear. Orpheus Centaurus .5 Front Centre. Mirage 10 inch sub.

Other Reviews
DVD Net - Terry K

Comments (Add)
Which version? - REPLY POSTED
Who is Carrot Top? -
The R1 DVD is not the uncut version... - Dark Lord (Bio? We don't need no stinkin' bio!)
R1 version is cut - Jace
Re: Cuts - Geoff (read my bio)
cut/uncut etc. -
Thanks - Geoff (read my bio)
Carrottop - The hideous truth - Shane C (read my bio, you will)
note to geoff + why carrot top keeps getting work -
The Warner Home Video Press Release says it's uncut -
So are you saying R1 has 5 audio commentaries tracks? - REPLY POSTED
RE: So are you saying R1 has 5 audio commentaries tracks? - REPLY POSTED
FAO Richie - Gav
2 disc special edition??? - REPLY POSTED
Uncut Version -
So is it Uncut (none of you have confirmed this) - REPLY POSTED
So is it Uncut (none of you have confirmed this) -
Rules of Attraction music -
Music - Shane C (read my bio, you will)
More music - REPLY POSTED
music track -