Rules of Attraction, The (Blu-ray) (2002)

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Released 3-Nov-2009

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
TV Spots-Sharon Rutter (Editor), et al
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 98:33
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Roger Avary
Icon Entertainment Starring James Van Der Beek
Shannyn Sossamon
Ian Somerhalder
Kip Pardue
Russell Sams
Case Amaray Variant
RPI $39.95 Music Tomandandy

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Auto Pan & Scan Encoded English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 EX
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (640Kb/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 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     The Rules of Attraction is more or less the antithesis of John Hughes’ 1980s output. It is a lovingly told, nihilistic tale of college students making all the wrong life choices based on their selfish confusion between love and lust, set in an ambiguous moment in the 1980s. Essentially, all the mischievous misdeeds that led Ferris Bueller, et all, to upbeat feel-good ends lead the characters of The Rules of Attraction to seedy, unpleasant ends, albeit told with the same self-assured optimistic slant.

     The film primarily follows the love triangle that forms between three main protagonists as they navigate the college landscape. Sean Bateman (James Van Der Beek) is the college drug dealer and general party-boy. He falls in love with virginal tease Lauren Hynde (Shannyn Sossamon), who is saving herself for her estranged boyfriend Victor (Kip Pardue) but is gradually drawn to Sean. Forming the third point in the triangle is Paul Denton (Ian Sommerhalder), an ex-boyfriend of Lauren's who has since decided he is bisexual (very much leaning gay) and is lusting after Sean, who strings him along (though to what extent is quite open to interpretation as the story is presented from each character's perspective).

     Adding further hormonal confusion to the mix is a wide array of side characters, most notably the aforementioned Victor, whose several month long trip to Europe is told at a brilliant fast-forward pace, and Lauren's roommate Lara Holleran (Jessica Biel) who competes for Sean's attention to an extent, leading to the immortal line of the film (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) "I only had sex with her because I'm in love with you.".

     The Rules of Attraction was the first film to set writer/director Roger Avary away from his long time collaborator Quentin Tarantino. Brett Easton Ellis’ source material was a perfect choice to help Avary differentiate his own style from that of his past collaborative work. Avary's innovative yet effortless style and fluid narrative capture the source near-perfectly. Furthermore, the performances elicited from the cast are spot-on.

     In the years since its limited though rather controversial (thanks to some hilarious "plush love" themed posters) theatrical release, The Rules of Attraction has become a landmark cult film. It is a rare movie that has improved with age, no doubt helped largely by accurately fitting into its period setting, and further improves upon repeat viewings. Given the frank depiction of many of the events in the film (nobody will ever be able to see Dawson's Creek in the same light again!), along with the film's many deliberate ambiguities, it is certainly not a film for everyone. In fact, it is almost guaranteed to elicit a strong love or hate reaction from every viewer. From one of the lovers, The Rules of Attraction is highly recommended.

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Transfer Quality


    The film is presented in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio in 1080p.

     The Rules of Attraction has a very deliberate look about it. The film captures the look of mid-1980s studio dramedies in an effort to help set the tone of the film. The results are exemplary, as is the conversion to Blu-ray. This disc provides an excellent representation of the theatrical look of the film. This is certainly not the most eye-catching Blu-ray you will find, but it does offer an excellent example of how well the format can represent traditional film.

     The photography is generally slightly soft, though quite sharp when it wants to be, and features noticeable filmic grain. A moderate number of small film artefacts are visible, mostly small specs of dust, which actually adds to the look of the film rather than proving a distraction.

     The colour palette is quite natural, though with a slight balance towards earthy tones rather than bright colours. Skin tones seem accurate. There is a good level of shadow detail in the image and plenty of depth to the dark colours.

     There is no sign of compression artefacts in the image.

    English subtitles are available for the film. Based on the portion I sampled, they appear to be accurate to the spoken word and well timed.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


     The film features an English DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio track and an English Dolby Digital 5.1 (640 Kbps) audio track.

     The audio sounds excellent. The dialogue is clear and easy to understand. The audio is well synchronised to the video.

     The film features a brilliant electro pop score by Tomandandy as well as choice cuts of broody music from the vague era in which the film is set.

     The surrounds are used effectively to create a befitting mood for the film. Plenty of environmental effect and score make their way to the surrounds. The subwoofer is well used to add deep bass to the score.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


     The extras package on offer is almost identical to the Region 4 DVD package which we reviewed here, but misses one commentary track that appeared on that version (sadly the one that has the fewest stars but is generally regarded as the best of the three commentary tracks on the previous Region 4 release). All presented in SD (even the trailers).

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

     A bland commentary track that sounds chopped together from several even more bland commentary tracks. None of the actors have anything of particular note to say and there are far too many long patches of dead air. Pass.

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

     Substantially more interesting than the other commentary track, but still rather patchy. Worth a listen for fans.

Featurette - Anatomy Of A Scene (26:05)

     A reasonably comprehensive, interview-driven, "making of" type featurette that was produced for the Sundance Channel in the US. All the key players behind the lens are well featured (director, producer, editor). Interesting stuff.

Trailers and TV Spots

     A theatrical trailer, teaser trailer and handful of brief TV spots are included.


    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Australian Region B Blu-ray edition of the film is identical to the UK Region B Blu-ray, with the film complete and uncut (which was a first for the home video release of the film in the UK). The film has not yet been released in Region A on Blu-ray.


    A cult classic black dramedy that has only improved with age. The Rules of Attraction is beautifully made and deliciously cynical.

    Audio and video are both excellent. The extras are modest but worthwhile, although there is nothing here that was not on the DVD release.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Adam Gould (Totally Biolicious!)
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDSony Playstation 3, using HDMI output
DisplayOptoma HD20 Projector. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderPioneer VSX2016AVS. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX2016AVS
Speakers150W DTX front speakers, 100W centre and 4 surround/rear speakers, 12 inch PSB Image 6i powered sub

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