Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

The Rules of Attraction (2002)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

The Rules of Attraction (2002)

In director/writer Roger Avary's mean-spirited, repulsive, crude, and depressing romantic (black) comedy - about an intense love triangle between a group of late-1980s liberal arts students (mostly spoiled, over-privileged, shallow, miserable bohemian nihilists, who were amoral, debauched, hedonistic and promiscuous), at Camden College (fictional) on the East Coast (New Hampshire) - all were seeking love with the wrong person:

  • in the film's opening after a few quick titles, the main female protagonist was introduced at an "End of the World" Party held in December -- pretty co-ed Lauren Hynde (Shannyn Sossamon), a student at NH's Camden College (fictional); she was explaining (in an interior monologue) how she lost her virginity at the party: "It's a story that might bore you, but you don't have to listen, because I always knew it was going to be like that. And it was, I think, in that last year, or actually weekend, really a Friday in December at Camden, and this was years ago when I was a different person, and I was so drunk that I ended up losing my virginity. I lost it to some guy who I thought was a ceramics major, but was actually either an NYU film student who was just up to Camden for The End Of The World, or a townie. I actually had my eye on someone else that night -- Victor..."
  • she told how she had planned to lose her virginity to someone else who was at the party - she had an on-going infatuation for self-centered, shallow, and very promiscuous Victor Johnson (Kip Pardue), a drama major (who had been gone most of the previous summer traveling in Europe); Lauren was disturbed that Victor ended up having sex with her slutty roommate - dumb-blonde, sexpot party girl Lara Holleran (Jessica Biel) before dumping her - Lauren described Lara's drunken, rampant sluttiness: "(she) did the whole football team...She's now married to a senator and has four kids. How time distorts things")
  • spitefully deprived of what she really wanted, Lauren described how she took Raymond (Joel Michaely), a film student, to an upstairs room to smoke dope and to have sex, where she passed out and then awoke to find herself being raped from behind by the townie (Chasen Hampton) - who threw up on her - while Raymond recorded it; she regretted not losing her virginity to Victor: ("I had actually lost my virginity to a townie. This wouldn't have happened with Victor. He would have taken me gently in his big, strong Drama major arms, and undressed me quietly and expertly, taken my bra off with grace and ease. And it probably wouldn't have hurt. I should have given myself to Victor last term when I had the chance"); she realized her life was in a major stall: ("I always knew it would be like this. I just get the feeling my life lacks forward momentum. Like everything is moving by so quickly that time just seems to stop") - and then suddenly, the film began to run in reverse (or rewind), returning to the party in progress downstairs
Lauren's "End of the World" Party Rape
Film Student
  • a second individual, part of a love triangle, was introduced: Paul Denton (Ian Somerhalder), formerly Lauren's dating partner - he parroted Lauren's words to connect them together: "I just get the feeling my life lacks forward momentum, you know? Like everything is moving by so quickly that time just seems to stop"; he was a sexually-ambitious bi-sexual who was in continual lustful pursuit of homosexual hook-ups; he gazed across the party room at an unidentified, oblivious male (Sean Bateman, see below) as his voice-over spoke: "I imagine all the things in life that never were, and all the things that could have been"; after taking ecstasy, he failed in an attempt to have sex with a conflicted, closeted male jock student at the party when they went to an upstairs room; the male rejected Paul, kicked him in the groin, and threw him against a wall as he threatened: ("I'm not gay. You're lucky I don't kill you") - again the film went into rewind, to go back in time for a third introduction
  • Sean Bateman (James Van Der Beek) was then introduced at the "End of the World" party; he was another of Lauren's ex-lovers - (with another interior monologue), a messed-up drug-dealer; at the party, he was disappointed when he saw Lauren venture upstairs with the NYU film student; he tore up what he thought were anonymous love letters (on purple paper) from Lauren; in his interior monologue, he described himself as a predatory user of women for sex: ("an emotional vampire - I feed off of other people's real emotions. I search for this night's prey"); he left with blonde Kelly (Kate Bosworth) - who followed him to his dorm room where they had emotionless sex (the monologue shifted to a distant 3rd person narrative: "Something was wrong, something was missing, he didn't know what. Confused, he started to f--k her. Before he came, it hit him -- he can't remember the last time he had sex sober")
  • the opening credits played (backwards) - the remainder of the film was a flashback (or rewind) to the beginning of the college's first term months earlier
  • after an almost 6-minute montage (to the tune of a re-recorded version of Donovan's "Colours"), Sean ran into Lauren in a classroom hallway (in split-screen) after their class was unexpectedly cancelled; they both appeared attracted to each other (as the image moved to a two-shot); as she left, he made the assumption that purple love letters he had received were from her
Sean and Lauren Meeting in a Classroom Hallway
Split-Screen: Sean and Lauren (Two Coeds)
Sean Bateman
(James Van Der Beek)
Lauren Hynde
(Shannyn Sossamon)
Sean - Mistakenly Believed Purple Love Letters Were From Lauren
  • at a "Pre-Saturday Night Party Party," Sean was hoping that Lauren would be there, but her cocaine-addicted roommate Lara Holleran (Jessica Biel) told him that she had purposely discouraged herself from attending - by looking at an illustrated book of venereal diseases; however, when Lauren did arrive, Sean had already left the party to do drugs with Paul; when she met up with her Art History professor Lance Lawson (Eric Stoltz) at the party, Lauren ultimately decided to go with him to his office and lose her virginity; when she asked: "So are we gonna do it here on the couch?", he insisted on a "hummer" or oral sex instead ("What? F--k? Oh, are you mad? I would lose my tenure. And I'm a married man") - and he promised grade improvement in exchange: "I've heard you're talented, Miss Hynde. And it certainly can't hurt your GPA" - as her head went below the frame into his lap - to the tune of Verdi's Aida Grand March
  • at the next "Dress to Get Screwed" party, Sean decided to hook up with Lauren's back-stabbing, cocaine-snorting roommate Lara in an enticing pink baby-doll outfit; during sex in her dorm room, Sean (under the influence of 'shrooms) fantasized that he was having sex with Lauren, and realized that he really loved her instead of Lara - he attempted to cover Lara's face with his hand so he couldn't see her, while imagining Lauren in her place: (voice-over: "Disillusionment strikes. After all my pining for Lauren, this -- her roommate. The inevitable conclusion. It's like bad poetry-- and then what? I'm still hard, so I keep on going. She's groaning now. Humping up, down, up. Is it ever going to end? I should never have done this. I should have kept it innocent.... I put my hand over her mouth. She comes, licking my palms, snorting. It's over")
  • at the same time, an un-named heartbroken, pig-tailed female college student, known as "Food Service Girl" (Theresa Wayman) was revealed to have been the secret admirer who was writing love letters (on purple stationary) to Sean, and spying on him from afar for some time; she was suicidally depressed and upset when she saw Sean leave the party with Lara - and it led to a tragic, intensely-dramatic suicide scene; during the sequence, she read (in voice-over) her final purple letter that Sean would pick up in his mailbox
  • in the scene, the suicidal coed slashed her wrists in a dormitory bathtub of warm water - with her voice-over: "I've written this last letter because I know I'll never have you. I stood in the corner and watched you go off with her. She's so beneath you. You probably did it just to hurt me. Well, it worked, you hurt me, and there's nothing else I can do. There won't be any more notes. It's last call"; in gigantic closeups, she turned the bathtub faucet to 'H" (hot), lit candles, placed three rings on the side of the tub, along with a razor blade; she then removed her clothing, reclined back, and proceeded to slit the veins in her arms under the water; while she was bleeding to death, Harry Nilsson's plaintiff and overwrought song "Without You" played, with an ironic tone
  • Sean and Lara were interrupted when Lauren returned to their dorm room and discovered that Sean had been with Lara for sex - she was extremely disillusioned and upset; Sean begged for understanding: "I only did it with her because I'm in love with you"; after Lauren swiftly left, she discovered the Food Service Girl's naked body, and pulled her corpse from the bloody water; the next day, at Lauren's dorm room door, Sean tried to talk to her ("Lauren, I love you"), but she ordered: "Leave, Sean!"; he yelled back: "Since when does f--king somebody else mean that I'm not faithful to you?"; in the hallway, Lara came up to Sean and told him: "Face it, you f--ked up"; he punched her in the face
  • distraught after being dropped by Lauren, Sean made numerous attempts to take his life, including hanging, slitting his wrists, and overdosing on Advil and Nyquil - but he awakened alive and in a stupor; when all failed, he lured her to his room where he faked his death by slitting his throat, further upsetting and alienating her - she reacted: "You're so sad. Sean, you're sick"
  • one of the lengthiest, and most rapid-fire monologues ever recorded was delivered by Victor, Lauren's traveling boyfriend, who hurriedly described his summer back-packing European vacation (in voice-over) to friends in a diner - a complete drug and sex-fest: (excerpts) "Took a charter flight on a DC-10 to London. Landed at Heathrow. Took a cab to the city center. Don't let people lie to you: hostels are for the ugly. I'm staying in Home House, the most beautiful hotel in the world...Wrote my mom a postcard I never sent. Bought some speed from an Italian junkie who was trying to sell me a stolen bike. Smoked a lot of hash that had too much tobacco in it. Saw the Tate. Saw Big Ben. Ate a lot of weird English food. It rained a lot, it was expensive, and I'm jonesing....So, I split for Amsterdam. The Dutch all know English, so I didn't have to speak any Dutch - which was a relief. I cruise the Red Light District. Visit a sex show. Visit a sex museum. Smoke a lot of hash. I meet a Dutch TV actress and we drink absinthe at a bar called Absinthe.... I wake to the sound of a wino singing. It's 8 AM and hot as blazes. I pretend to ice-skate around Central Station, while someone plays the sax. Trade songs with a Kiwi girl....Then split for Paris by train. Wander the Champs-Elysees. Climb the Eiffel Tower for only seven francs, because the ticket machine was broken. Got the hang of the Metro, took it everywhere. Went to a Ford model party and hooked up with a Romanian model named Karina...Made out with a Dutch model in front of the Louvre. Saw the Arc de Triomphe and almost became road-kill crossing the street. "Oakie" invites me to Dublin, so I catch an Aer Lingus flight and stay at the Morrison. Dublin rocks like you can't imagine...I fly to Barcelona, which was a low-rent bust. Too many fat American students. Too many lame meat markets. I dropped acid at the Sagrada Familia, which was a trip to say the least...Euro Pass into Italy and ended up in Venice, where I met a hot girl who looks like Rachael Leigh Cook and speaks better English than I do. She's living for a year on only five dollars a day. We gondola around, buy some masks....Ended up in Rome, which is big and hot and dirty. It was just like L.A., but with ruins. I went to the Vatican, which was ridiculously opulent. Stood for two hours to get into the Sistine Chapel, which - now that it's been cleaned - looks fake...I wake well-rested, masturbate in the shower, and check out. I make my way back to London and hang out in Piccadilly Circus... The next day, I drop some acid and get lost in the subway for a full day and can't find my way out...I get my stuff and barely make my plane back to the United States. I no longer know who I am and I feel like the ghost of a total stranger"
Victor's Rapid-Fire European-Trip Sojourn - A Montage
(From London to Amsterdam to Paris to Dublin to Barcelona, to Switzerland to Venice, Florence and Rome, then back to London)
  • after Victor returned from his adventurous, sex-filled holiday through Europe, Lauren was expecting to have sex with him - and had been saving herself for him (she had a picture of him on her dresser)
  • at the same time, Sean tried to approach Lauren one last time, attract her attention, and have her understand his strange actions toward her: ("I really did try to kill myself. Just before I faked it"); she rejected him when she told him it was over because she was in love with somebody else - her old boyfriend Victor; he pulled out the final letter from the suicidal girl - and still had the mistaken belief that it had come from Lauren; she was confused and didn't know what he was talking about: ("Wow! Deal with it, Sean. It's over. Rock and roll"); he vowed that he only wanted to get to know her: ("Lauren, I want to know you"), but she told him that he could never know her: ("What does that mean, "Know me"? 'Know me.' Nobody knows anyone else, ever! You will never, ever know me"), and she coldly walked off and abandoned him; the camera tracked a single delicate snowflake (CGI) as it descended and landed on the corner of the rejected lover's left eye, and then melted into a tear
A Snowflake Tear on the Corner of Sean's Left Eye
  • on her way to Victor's dorm room to meet him for the first time after his trip, when Lauren approached Victor and kissed him, to her dismay, he seemed to be completely unaware of her - he told her: "You smell really good, but I don't know who you are...I'm sorry, I don't have the slightest idea who you are right now. Really, it's, it's totally blank... Should I know you?"; it was revealed that he was having sex in the room with another female
  • as Sean sat in the falling snow at an outdoor theatre while drinking a bottle of whiskey, Sean was approached by Paul, who expressed his interest in being closer to Sean: "You know, I find myself talking to you when you're not even around -- just carrying on conversations....I just -- want to know you. Just want to know who you are"; Sean spitefully answered with the same words Lauren had just used to reject him: ("No one will ever know anyone. You're not ever gonna know me....It means, Paul, you're not ever gonna know me. Figure it out. Deal with it"); confused and hurt ("What the hell does that mean?"), Paul left
Sean's Ultimate Rejection of Paul - Using Lauren's Words
  • the film's epilogue was a return (or replay) of the introductory "End of the World" party, where Lauren was in attendance; Sean (who had ripped up the purple letters after seeing her venture upstairs with the film student), had an epiphany and diverted his course - he left the party (without Kelly)
  • meanwhile, Paul conversed with Lauren on the front porch and then in the front yard about their mutual friend Sean; Paul stated his understanding that Sean was really in love with her, and mistakenly thought she was the one writing purple love letters to him; she corrected him: "No, I didn't put notes into anybody's box....Wrong person. Wasn't me"; Paul: "Then, there's someone else." Lauren: "Doesn't matter anyway. Not to people like him. Not to people like us"; they watched as Sean rode off alone on his motorcycle without knowing his destination
  • Sean's voice-over ended the film (from his POV on the bike): "I started driving faster as I left the college behind. I didn't know where I was going. Someplace unoccupied, I hoped. At first I thought there were things about her that I would never forget, but in the end, all I could think about was --- (an abrupt cut)" - the end credits followed, running backwards from "THE END"!

Victor (Kip Pardue) - Lauren's Infatuation at Party

Bi-Sexual Paul Denton's (Ian Somerhalder) Failed Attempt At Sex with Male at Party

Kelly (Kate Bosworth)

Sean Having Sex with Kelly

Sean's Love Letters From a Secret Admirer

Paul Denton (Ian Somerhalder)

Paul with Sean at a Pre-Saturday Night Party Party

Lauren's Sexual Encounter with Professor Lawson (Eric Stoltz)

At the "Dress to Get Screwed" Party, Lauren's Roommate Lara Holleran (Jessica Biel)

While Having Sex with Lara, Sean Imagined Being with Lauren

Ignored Food Service Girl (Theresa Wayman)

Suicide of "Food Service Girl" Over Her Unrequited Love for Sean

Lauren Finding Sean Having Sex with Lara

Lauren's Discovery of The Suicidal Girl

Sean's Failed Suicide Attempts: Hanging, Slitting His Wrists, and Drug Overdosing

Sean's Faked Death

Lauren's Infatuation with Victor

A Further Break-Up Between Lauren and Sean

Victor's Complete Ignorance About Lauren

Epilogue: Paul and Lauren on Front Porch Talking About Sean


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