The times demand that we rave and revel
The Rules of Attraction
Set in the fictional Camden College in New Hampshire, the film opens at the “End of the World” party, where students Lauren Hynde, Paul Denton, and Sean Bateman give apathetic interior monologues on their lives and briefly exchange glances with one another. Lauren, previously a virgin, takes a film student upstairs to have sex and passes out; she wakes to find herself being raped by a townie while the film student records it, and reflects on how she had planned to lose her virginity to Victor, her now ex-boyfriend. Meanwhile, Paul, who is bisexual, tries to have sex with a jock, only to be bashed when it turns out the jock is deeply closeted. A bruised and beaten Sean is shown drinking a whole bottle of Jack Daniel’s, tearing up a series of purple letters, before approaching and having sex with a blonde girl at the party.
The plot then moves backwards several months to the beginning of the school year, and explores the love triangle between Lauren, Paul, and Sean. Misinterpreting Sean’s willingness to spend time with him, Paul makes several advances, to which Sean is oblivious. Paul fantasizes about having sex with Sean while masturbating. Concurrently, Lauren also finds herself attracted to Sean despite saving her virginity for her traveling boyfriend, Victor. Sean reciprocates her feelings, and assumes the anonymous, purple love letters he has started receiving are from Lauren. Sean masturbates to reading these letters and fantasizes about Lauren.
While Paul is visiting his friend “Dick”, Sean has sex with Lauren’s roommate Lara at the “Dressed to Get Screwed” party. Sean regrets it immediately, and realizes that he is in love with Lauren. It is then revealed that another, unnamed cafeteria girl is the author of Sean’s love letters; after seeing him leave the party with Lara, she sends him a suicide note before cutting her wrists in the dorm bathtub. Lauren, finding Sean with Lara, runs to the girls’ bathroom in tears, only to find the unnamed girl’s body, leaving Lauren extremely distressed. Sean, still believing Lauren wrote the purple letters, misinterprets the unnamed girl’s suicide note and assumes Lauren never wants to be with him. Lauren decides to lose her virginity to her Art History professor Lance Lawson. But being married and worried about losing his tenure, he simply allows her to perform fellatio on him instead.
After numerous failed attempts at suicide, Sean fakes his death and, unaware that Lauren recently found a corpse, unintentionally upsets her further when she finds him pretending to be dead. After stealing drugs from dealer Rupert, Sean tries to speak to Lauren again, asking only to know her. Lauren tells Sean he will never know her, and abandons him. She approaches Victor, who has finally returned to Camden College, only to find that Victor is having sex with Lara and does not remember who Lauren is, leaving her completely distraught.
Paul, upon finding a drunk Sean, tries to talk to him, parroting Sean’s own words by saying he merely wants to know him. Sean coldly rejects him, using Lauren’s words to say that Paul will never know him. Paul throws a snowball at Sean, then angrily runs off in tears. Sean checks his campus mailbox in vain, only to find that the love notes have stopped. He is then cornered by Rupert and his Jamaican partner, Guest, and brutally beaten.
The three protagonists then attend the “End of the World” party and the plot returns to the introduction. After seeing Lauren heading upstairs with the film student, Sean finally accepts he cannot be with her, and tears up the purple letters he believes to be from her. It is then revealed that, rather than having sex with the blonde girl as he does in the intro, Sean has an epiphany, reconsiders and he instead leaves his drink and exits. Paul and Lauren meet on the house porch and reflect on the recent events, as well as on Sean, whom they watch depart on his motorcycle. Sean begins narrating his final thoughts only for them to end prematurely as the film cuts to the end credits, which are run backwards.
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American Psycho (film)
In 1987, wealthy New York investment banker Patrick Bateman’s life revolves around dining at trendy restaurants while keeping up appearances for his fiancée Evelyn and his circle of wealthy and shallow associates, most of whom he hates. Bateman describes the material accoutrements of his lifestyle, including his morning exercise, beautification routine, designer wardrobe and expensive furniture. He also discusses his music collection by mimicking phrases he’s seen in music reviews.
Bateman and his associates flaunt their business cards in a display of vanity. Enraged by the superiority of his co-worker Paul Allen’s card, Bateman murders a homeless man and his dog. At a Christmas party, Bateman makes plans to have dinner with Allen, who mistakes Bateman for another coworker. Bateman gets Allen drunk and lures him back to his apartment. While playing “Hip to Be Square”, Bateman delivers a monologue to Allen about the artistic merits of the song, before proceeding to murder him with a mirror-polished axe. After disposing of the body, Bateman breaks into Allen’s apartment and leaves a phony message on his answering machine, saying that Allen has gone on a business trip to London. Bateman is later interviewed about Allen’s disappearance by private detective Donald Kimball.
Bateman takes two prostitutes, whom he names Christie and Sabrina, to his apartment and expounds on his opinions of the band Genesis. After they have sex, Bateman brings out instruments he uses for bodily harm. They later leave his apartment evidently bloodied and mistreated.
Bateman’s colleague Luis Carruthers reveals a new business card, reminding Bateman of Allen’s card. Bateman tries to strangle Luis in the restroom of an expensive restaurant, but Luis mistakes the attempt for a sexual advance and declares his love for Bateman, who flees in disgust, not due to Luis´s homosexuality, but due to Luis having expressed personal affection for him, something which Bateman, due to his mental issues, is unable to comprehend, and fears. After murdering a model, Bateman invites his secretary Jean to dinner, suggesting that she meet him at his apartment for drinks. When Jean arrives, unbeknownst to her, Bateman holds a nail gun to the back of her head while they chat. When he receives a message from Evelyn on his answering machine, he asks Jean to leave.
Kimball meets Bateman for lunch and tells him he is not under suspicion in Allen’s disappearance. Detective Kimball interviews Bateman again and, while Kimball remains suspicious of Bateman, he reveals that a colleague of Bateman’s spotted Paul Allen in London, calling into question the entire investigation. Bateman is relieved by the news, but is perturbed and begins to doubt himself.
Bateman invites Christie and his acquaintance Elizabeth to Allen’s apartment for sex, and kills Elizabeth during the act. Christie runs, discovering multiple female corpses as she searches for an exit. A naked Bateman chases her and drops a chainsaw on her as she flees down a staircase, killing her.
Bateman breaks off his engagement with Evelyn. That night, as he uses an ATM, he sees a cat and the ATM displays the text “feed me a stray cat”. When he prepares to shoot the cat, a woman confronts him, so he shoots her. A police chase ensues, but Bateman shoots and kills the cops and blows up a police car. Fleeing to his office, Bateman enters the wrong building, where he murders a security guard and a janitor. In an office he believes is his, a police helicopter shines a light on Bateman. He hides and calls his lawyer Harold Carnes and frantically leaves a confession regarding the many murders on Carnes’s answering machine.
The following morning, Bateman visits Allen’s apartment, expecting to clean up Allen’s remains, but it is vacant and for sale. He pretends to be a potential buyer, but the realtor tricks Bateman into revealing that he is not there to buy the apartment. She then cryptically tells him that the apartment does not belong to Paul Allen, before ordering him to leave. While Bateman goes to meet with his colleagues for lunch, a horrified Jean finds detailed drawings of murder and mutilation in Bateman’s office journal.
Bateman sees Carnes at the restaurant and mentions the phone message he left the prior evening. Carnes mistakes Bateman for another colleague and laughs off the phone confession as a joke. Bateman desperately explains who he is and again confesses the murders, but Carnes rebukes it as impossible, as he recently had dinner with Allen in London. A confused and exhausted Bateman returns to his friends, where they briefly muse on whether Ronald Reagan is a harmless old man or a hidden psychopath, before discussing their dinner reservations yet again. Left with the possibility that no one knows he is a murderer, or that he simply hallucinated the various killings, Bateman’s voiceover narration reveals his realization that he will escape the punishment he feels he deserves, and that there has been no catharsis: “This confession has meant nothing”.
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American Psycho is a novel by Bret Easton Ellis, published in 1991. The story is told in the first person by Patrick Bateman, a serial killer and Manhattan investment banker. Alison Kelly of The Observer notes that while “some countries [deem it] so potentially disturbing that it can only be sold shrink-wrapped,” “critics rave about it” and “academics revel in its transgressive and postmodern qualities.”