American Psycho

Date: April 15th, 2000

Cast

 
Christian Bale   Patrick Bateman
Willem Dafoe   Donald Kimball
Jared Leto   Paul Allen
Reese Witherspoon   Evelyn Williams
Samantha Mathis   Courtney Rawlinson
ChloŽ Sevigny   Jean

Director: Mary Harron


The days of the happy go lucky 80s movie portrayals are now officially dead. Director Mary Harron's dark  
satirical and pardon my pun cutting edge look at greed and materialism, puts the final nail in the coffin of 
Ferris, Duckie and the Brat Pack.  Powered by Christian Bale's egotistical, sexist, no holds barred performance 
the darkness has officially descended, and it comes in the form of Patrick Bateman.
Bateman personifies the 80's, both good and bad, in every way.  He is a Wall Street power broker, who loves to 
flash his money, business cards, and status.  He is carefree, yet ruthless, material and vain, yet always 
hungry for more.  His hungers go farther than just striving to gain and better himself in the world though.
He believes in only the best, because he has been told to, but something inside is amiss.  Amongst his 
Armani suits and designer clothes, resides a dark side, with a chilling penchant for combining the music of 
Whitney Houston, Huey Lewis and Phil Collins, with sharp objects and bloodletting.  He has a "thirst" 
which continues to grow each time he feeds it.   He becomes lost in himself, saying in one of the movies 
powerful and intelligent voice-overs, that he is facade, and is simply ďnot thereĒ.  American Psycho tackles
 the issue that Fight Club touched on, and Boiler Room skirted.  The issue of what we have, being more
 important than who we are, and how what is around us, defines us more than what is inside us.  External 
influences may mold us into something we don't particularly like, but still need to have to survive everyday.  
Bateman becomes consumed in routine, becomes angered by being "one-upped".  Pay particular attention to 
scene in a fellow yuppies apartment and repeated power struggles over business cards.  Most of all he 
attempts to exorcise his demons by giving into them, rather than fighting them.
Bateman is portrayed with  masterfully wicked glee by Bale, an actor who has been around for almost 15 
years, but whom few people know about.  Believe me America, you should pay attention, and this role
 will make you.  For those who are material in nature, Bale's appearance will absolutely melt any female 
with hormones.  His smooth confident vocality, even when engaging in sex, or slicing and dicing, with send
 two different kinds of chills through your body.  For those who just admire ability, Bale puts on a face and 
act that is artificial, but knows it.  He shows what it is like to live inside a facade, be trapped there, and 
accepting it, while secretly looking for a way out.  Bale's portrayal here is slightly akin to Tom Cruise's turn 
in Magnolia.  He is rude, crude, bold, cocky, yet still a real person buried beneath it all.  I know this 
movie is too dark, too early, and contains one scene with Bale running naked down a hallway (you'll know it when
 you see it) but I wish the Academy, or someone could appreciate the challenge of this role, and how well Bale 
pulls it off.  This should be the performance that finally gets him the attention that he deserves.
There was almost more publicity before this movie even came out, then it will get now that it is.  It is based upon
 a very controversial 1991 novel by Bret Easton Ellis, and at one time has had the names of Oliver Stone, and 
Leonardo DiCaprio attached to it.  Having now seen the movie, I definitely want to read the story, because 
the intelligence, and scathing commentary pours off the screen, especially during Bale's voice-overs. I also 
cannot imagine Stone's interpretation of the material.  It's not that I don't love Stone, but I think his
 masculinity and heavy handedness would have gotten in the way of the message, and honestly, this is way too 
edgy for Leo, Basketball Diaries was the extent of his darkness, besides, it would ruin his poster boy status for
sure.It is obvious that it has made a successful transition on screen, but this will not be a movie for everyone.  
Contrary to popular belief, this movie is not a slasher, serial killer blood fest.  It very easily could have 
been, Wall Street meets Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but Harron focuses more on the causes of aggression, 
rather than the effects.  This would make a nice companion piece with Boiler Room, because it deals 
with the same kind of materialistic greed and egotism that persists in the male dominated world of business.  
In handling it in this manner, Harron shows a wonderfully deft touch, and keen view on how someone on the other
 side perceives things.  She also presents an ending that will definitely raise discussions amongst 
moviegoers.  Some may question its plausibility (it does seem a bit unsubstantiated, and a tad out of left 
field) but others, will analyze, rehash, and recall, and see exactly what it means and where it comes from.  
Either way, it achieves the goal, and definitely stick with you and keep you conversing long after the lights have
 come up.
Ultimately, American Psycho is a movie for those who enjoy sociological commentaries that don't pull any 
punches.  It is a dark examination into what the 80's turned some of us into, focusing on the lust for greed 
and power.  What you had, became more important, than how you got it.  This movie could have 
easily turned into something atrocious like Very Bad Things, which also attempted to hold a mirror up to the 
dark side of society, but forgot to put the glass in.  Here, Harron de-emphasizes the gore, and sex
 (which is still present, and disturbing) and focuses on who's doing it and why.  In doing such, she has 
made a wonderful commentary that will put an end to those whose perception of that decade was all about 
parachute pants, leg warmers and one-hit wonders.  It gave birth to animal whose offspring still exists 
today, a little more educated, but still as hungry and wanton to get ahead (as shown in  Boiler Room) as
 ever.  I can even forgive the slight stumbles, involving the detective storyline, unnecessary homoerotic 
undertones, and a supporting cast that never really stands out, simply because, the message comes across 
to those who are receptive to it.  There are those who may shy away due to either the potential for 
bloodshed or analysis that may make your brain hurt.  I can understand apprehensiveness as well, due 
to the fact that there are those who just may not relate to what is happening here.  Those who didnít grow 
up in the 80ís, or around these kind of people or mentality, may find this to be more of yuppie version of a 
Grimmís fairy tale.  Others may be offended by the content, opting for simplicity and eye-candy style 
entertainment.  This movie is not simple or universally pleasing.  It was not made to be liked or 
necessarily completely understood.  It was made, I believe to make a statement, dissect a generation,
 observe societal effects on mankind and vice versa.  So after all this, youíre asking, should I see this 
movie?  Well, follow answer questions honestly, and it should make your decision for you.
If gore, or even the implication of it, disgusts you, this is not the movie for you
If graphic, intense sex or even the mere implication of it, offends you, this is not the movie for you.
If morally reprehensible people, doing immoral things to satisfy societal expectations, this is not the movie 
for you
But if darkly comic, biting satires that probe the very depths of what make us who we are interest you, and 
you want to see a breakthrough performance from the best actor youíve probably never heard of then this is
your movie
See this for Bale's performance, the social commentary and the conversation afterwards.  Now if youíll excuse 
me, I have to go return some videotapes. ($$$ out of $$$$)

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