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Vol. 360 No. 36 (Subscribe) (Contact: micah[at]reeldistraction.com) Wednesday, April 26 2017
American Psycho
Rating: Really liked it

Director: Mary Harron
Release Year: 2000
Genre: Drama
Starring: Christian Bale, Chloe Sevengny, Reese Witherspoon, Willem Dafoe


I have all the characterisitcs of a human being... flesh, blood, skin, hair... but not a single, clear, identifiable emotion. Except for greed and disgust. Something horrible is happening inside me, and I don't know why. My nightly blood lust has overflowed into my days. I feel lethal, on the verge of frenzy. I think my mask of sanity is about to slip. - Patrick Bateman
Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) is the quintessential 80's yuppie prick. He works at an unspecified job on Wall Street, has more money than he can spend, is engaged to a beautiful woman (played with spoiled perfection by Reese Witherspoon), his greatest concern is making sure his business card (bone colored with Silian Rail lettering) is more impressive than his indistinguishable co-workers.... he also has the heads of a couple of hookers in his freezer. Bateman is a combination of Bud Fox, Ed Norton in Fight Club, & Charles Manson.

Christian Bale does an absolutely fantastic slow simmer in this movie, just barely hiding Bateman's rage and insanity below his well-dressed and extensively-lotioned exterior. We laugh when he tells an obnoxious bartender that he'd like to stab her to death and play with her blood, because at first it seems so out of character. However, once we watch him kill a hobo and crush the man's dog, we realize something is seriously wrong. Bateman soon kills a co-worker who slights him, and becomes hounded by Detective Kimball (Willem Dafoe). Bateman commits exceedingly heinous acts with increasing regularity, all while attempting to maintain his buttoned-down expensive livestyle.

Slowly things for begin to spin out of control for Bateman. By the time he totally looses it he's literally chasing a hooker down the halls of his plush apartment, covered in blood and weilding a chainsaw. "My need to engage in homicidal behavior on a massive scale cannot be corrected" he calmly tells Witherspoon the next day over brunch "but I have no other way to fulfill my needs." We get a sense that his grip on reality might be slipping when an ATM orders him to 'FEED ME A STRAY CAT,' but even then we're not exactly sure what is real. He goes on an extensive killing spree that is remarkable for its senselessness and randomness before leaving an almost gleeful message on his lawyer's answering machine that starts with "You're my lawyer, so I think you should know... I've killed a lot of people."

American Psycho is a great movie, whether you view it as an allegory for weath and dispair, or just a kickass neo-action flick. Christian Bale is finally getting exposed to mainstream America as a result of great performance in Batman Begins, and movies like this, the Machinist and Equilibrium show that he's more than a one-hit wonder. Unfortunately, most mainstream moviegoers will leave this movie unsatisfied. It provides no clear answers or a traditional resolution. Despite this, the movie has a definite internal logic. I would share my opinion on what really happened... but I've got to return some videos. DVD contains a really interesting interview with Christian Bale, an American Psycho Featurette & the theatrical trailer. There is also a special edition that contains director commentary, book to screen featurette, deleted scenes & more, so pick your poison.

Author: Micah
Review Date: 08.23.06

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