A yuppie businessman's twisted homicidal double
life starts to bleed into his wealthy lifestyle.
American Psycho (2000)
Directed by Mary Harron
Written by Mary Harron and Guinevere Turner
Starring Christian Bale, Willem Dafoe, Jared Leto, Chloë Sevigny, Reese Witherspoon, Josh Lucas, Justin Theroux, Matt Ross
Based on the novel by Bret Easton Ellis
American Psycho is one of those films that has taken on a life of its own far outside the film itself. It's been memed to death, it's become a dorm room poster for college freshman across the world, and it nearly convinced an entire generation that "Hip to Be Square" is a great song. I mean, it's a good song at best. The character of Patrick Bateman has become a pop culture icon for all the wrong reasons, much like Tyler Durden before him. Some people see him as an "alpha male" leader, and that's just fucked up. There are those who genuinely like this movie, and far be it from me to take that away from you. I just think the only thing this film has going for it is Christian Bale's committed and insane performance. The film itself is disjointed and confused about its own identity. Is this a slasher? Is this a satire? Is this psychological? Who the hell knows?
Patrick Bateman (Bale) is a wealthy businessman who does a lot of business. I think he's an investment banker or something. We never actually see him do anything. He lives a lavish lifestyle, but has nothing but contempt for his friends, colleagues, and girlfriends. He moonlights as a serial killer, murdering anyone he finds distasteful at first, but that escalates into spree killing pretty damn quickly. It's quite possible that all the murders are in his head, and are just a harmless psychological expression of very real sociopathic rage problems. But that's for an "Intro to Psych" class down the road. Bateman spends the movie narrating his day-to-day life, hiring prostitutes, possibly killing them, and comparing business card designs with his colleagues. Also, Willem Dafoe is in this movie for a while, but he doesn't do much.
American Psycho is a cult classic because of Bale. There's no other decent explanation. The dialogue is pretty uninspired, apart from the occasional memorable line ("Oh my God, it even has a watermark"). The story is nearly incomprehensible, since we're seeing things from the skewed perspective of a narcissist who might be slaughtering people. But this is only my second time with the film. Maybe a third watch will sell me on this. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to return some videotapes.