Rules of Attraction by Bret Easton Ellis (1987)


L: 10/10

M: 9/10


Analysis from a broken, uninsured, decaying molar:

Bret Easton Ellis is the reason I started reading. He is my gateway drug into the literary world. I remember the first time I ever saw his name. Late at night, I turned on IFC and caught the last five minutes of the movie based on this book. It was perfect timing for a somewhat dark era of my life. I did some quick googling, and the next day went and purchased the book. I’ve never read a book so fast. I immediately went out and bought all his other books and then went on to similar authors. Bret Easton Ellis is the curator of my bookshelf, and probably even large parts of my personality.

The lines of dialog that Ellis creates between characters is intoxicating. It’s all matter-of-fact and to the point, but at the same time nobody lives in one moment long enough for any weight to take hold. No one cares about anything or anyone, even themselves. What sets this story apart from his other work is how each narrator tells a slightly different story, none of the facts quite lining upright. It’s like a choose your own adventure book, but instead of flipping to the corresponding pages, you read it from front to back taking in each possible outcome. This was my book choice, and it was a ten out of ten before I even reopened the thing. It’s mostly a book about nothing, but sometimes nothing can be a complex thing. Deal with it.

Analysis from a well-intentioned over lover:

Bret Easton Ellis is the shit. This book breaks so many rules and makes no effing sense sometimes, but I hated to put it down. From the beginning, you have no idea if you are missing pages in your book or if your copy is just jacked up. I love this! I love that as an author, he basically says, “trust me or put the fucking book down.” Ya know what? I trust him. I want to hear his version of this chaotic and completely narcissistic group of oversexed, over drugged, and under-educated college brats. I feel things when I read this book. It changes my mood. I slump and want to fuck, get drunk on cheap beer (Like Bud Light, that’s as cheap as I’ll go), start smoking, and bitch about everything that is wrong with the world. I won’t lie, I really enjoy tapping into that jaded part of my personality. This story is dark and twisted. You need a character map to really follow it all, but if you pay attention, it congeals into something that makes sense. Learning more about the author has just gotten me so excited to read all of his other works. Apparently, his books all tie together and have some connection to characters from other books without being sequels or prequels. The mind that can create that kind of literary reality is so fresh and brilliant. This is L’s baby, and I have heard it for years, but now I get it. I get why you would want to come back to this world he’s created over and over again. I’ll be rereading this for years to come. God, such a uniquely twisted story so brilliantly delivered. I am now a serial fan.


bret-easton-ellis
Bret Easton Ellis

Addendum:

The Rules of Attraction (2002)

rules-movie-poster

L: 9/10

M: 7/10


Analysis from L:

I have to admit, even though this is one of my favorite movies of all time, based on my favorite book, it might not stand up to time very well. This movie already had its small theatrical run before I stumbled across it, but I remember how poorly it was received. I’m really not surprised at its reception, due to a confusing marketing campaign and a cast full of teen movie superstars (at the time). Watching trailers for the film on Youtube was offered as a teen comedy when it’s really anything but. Parts of this movie use exact dialog from the source material, and it really sets the mood. Seeing someone say Ellis’s dialog in real life might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it still gives me chills.

Roger Avery uses some captivating editing, reversing entire scenes and restarting them from a different point of view. The storyline is a little streamlined in comparison to the book. Some characters are removed or compiled into one person, making it possible to jam all of the novel into the film’s runtime. The actors and the wardrobes scream late 90’s early 00’s, but it’s only mildly distracting at first. I’m a fanboy, I’m a sucker, it is what it is. Rock ‘ N’ Roll.

Analysis from M:

On its own merit, this is a cult classic in the making as far as movies go. I could watch it over and over and pick up on new details each time. Still coming off of a high from the book, it doesn’t really measure up to me, though. I suppose most movies never do. I agree with L’s love for dialogue directly from the book onto the screen, having an emotional impact. I lived for those moments. Because Ellis is such an incredible writer who paints a real picture, I missed some of his book details. The soundtrack, which is now a playlist of its own on my phone, is amazing, but I wanted it to be made up of all the sounds Ellis describes. I wanted them to look as ridiculous on-screen as he made them look on paper. I did appreciate the understanding of certain parts of the book that lost me, and seeing the characters come to life filled in some gaps. One thing I did miss is that in the book, the questions left dangling were answered on screen. The beauty to me of the way Ellis writes is in his required trust. You trust him and just go along for the ride, or you put his book down. He doesn’t need you. The movie tied it up in a melancholy narcissistic bow. The book just outweighs it for me, and I can’t be persuaded otherwise. OH, and the cover? It looks like “Ten Things I Hate About You: The College Years.” Whoever was in charge of promoting this film and the cover art really did a disservice. This movie is the Breakfast Club for my generation…let it be moody and dark.


rules movie scene.jpg

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