Director: Mary Harron
Starring: Christian Bale, Willem Dafoe, Jared Leto, Josh Lucas, Samantha Mathis, Matt Ross, Bill Sage, Chloë Sevigny,Cara Seymour, Justin Theroux, Guinevere Turner, Reese Witherspoon .USA. 1h 41m
After the success of a brilliant deeply disturbing and somewhat witty and stylish novella of the same name by Bret Easton Ellis, Mary Harron transformed the saucy satirical bits into this cult movie starring the charismatic Chriistian Bale at the front of star studded cast. Bale was set to steal the show and this really boosted his career and ego to the outer limits, but I can’t argue that he gives a smart and sensuous performance.
I read the book and was happy to leave it as that, something the original author agrees with, but it became impossible to totally avoid the movie as it’s used to popular culture so much through doll’s phrases, and gifs it’s unavoidable.
So what’s all the fuss about? Well American Psycho tells a story of a shallow power driven man who we all love to hate. at his most productive he’s a spiteful child as he slowly descends into a spiral of madness and excess, seems simple but it’s the method of his decent which is a marvel to watch. There are no heroes in this story, only victims and they are dispatched in some insane carnality.
Patrick Batemen is a total dick, working for a wall street merchant bank in the 90’s he’s grotesquely overpaid and what most would consider an ugly person despite his extensive beauty, one of the random things which he likes to blab about, the other is his music tastes which is usually launches into just before a kill.
So why would a man who has everything want to go psycho and kill anyone? Well the first reason is that he’s a psycho and the other is about someone having a better designed business card than him, how fucking dare he be better than the rest of the Ivy Leaguers? The final insult comes when Paul Allen (Leto) gets Batemen mixed up with someone else, so he gets him drunk, lures him to his carefully wrapped apartment and axes him to death while dancing to Too Hip to be Square in a plastic raincoat (another popular Giphy clip). His psychopathy and blood lust continues through out the film and at one point it seems to almost be a coping mechanism for having to deal with the shallow smuchks that he has to deal with, he’s in a pointless engagement with an air head Reece Witherspoon, all for show, he spends most of his time fucking call girls and his friends fiance who spends her time high on lithium.
Everything is such a shit show, people living for an image, a name and title on a business card and having so little depth to them, it’s not hard to see why Bateman slowly breaks away to try and give himself some meaning, but he does it in the nastiest way possible, killing homeless people and mutilating prostitutes.
It’s quirky and probably worth a watch if you’re not into reading, it’s certainly one of those stories which takes a slice of the 80’s and magnifies it to an unbelievable scale and force feeds it back to the viewer,along with chunky walkmen and giant mobile phones, the 80’s was the rise of the Yuppie and they are all out in full force here, one scene champions the others where Bateman and one of his besties are doing some coke in the toilets of an exclusive nightclub, when someone pops his head over about the noise they are making and a verbal fight breaks out about how “we’re trying to do some drugs in here” it’s just so on point.
The violence is kept to a minimum, you don’t really SEE anything happen but you are witness to the end result, blood soaked with blood, a chainsaw and a dead hooker at the bottom of a stairwell, everything casually happens off scene but you don’t need to see it in graphic detail to know what’s going on, no matter how ludicrous the situation and how much we want to see it happen, the point isn’t the violence, it’s the petty cause and the over effect.
it’s a layered bag, and one that can be pondered over for years, but there’s a sequel and a work in progress TV show with Bateman as a 50 year old grooming a young candidate into his world, so maybe the madness won’t end!?
R: American Psycho 2 (2002), Psycho (1960)
L: Psycho Films.
5s:Christian Bale, Willem Dafoe