Date: April 15th, 2000
|Christian Bale||Patrick Bateman|
|Willem Dafoe||Donald Kimball|
|Jared Leto||Paul Allen|
|Reese Witherspoon||Evelyn Williams|
|Samantha Mathis||Courtney Rawlinson|
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. ($$$ out of $$$$)
Agree? Disagree, Questions? Comments?
Tell Me Here
Actor and movie information courtesy of the
Go To Reel Rambling Page