Time: 101 Minutes
Age Rating: contains violence, offensive language & sex scenes
Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman
Willem Dafoe as Detective Donald Kimball
Jared Leto as Paul Allen
Josh Lucas as Craig McDermott
Samantha Mathis as Courtney Rawlinson
Matt Ross as Luis Carruthers
Bill Sage as David Van Patten
Chloë Sevigny as Jean
Cara Seymour as Christie
Justin Theroux as Timothy Bryce
Guinevere Turner as Elizabeth
Reese Witherspoon as Evelyn Williams
Director: Mary Harron
In New York City in 1987, a handsome, young urban professional, Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale), lives a second life as a gruesome serial killer by night. The cast is filled by the detective (Willem Dafoe), the fiancé (Reese Witherspoon), the mistress (Samantha Mathis), the coworker (Jared Leto), and the secretary (Chloë Sevigny). This is a biting, wry comedy examining the elements that make a man a monster.
With it being just after its 20th anniversary, I thought it was worth watching American Psycho again. I liked it when I saw it, it’s a great movie. I’d probably now consider it to be one of my favourite films of all time. While it was a little polarising upon its release, it became quite a cult classic over time, and is now widely held in high regard. Dark, satirical, over the top and hilarious, it has become one of my favourite movies.
Now on the surface, it seems like a disturbing horror thriller about a serial killer. You really can’t watch this movie as a straight up thriller however, because it’s not that at all. This film is a dark comedy and has some over the top ridiculous moments, so you can’t take this movie too seriously. It’s very much a satire, especially of 80s Wall Street Yuppie Culture. With viewings after the first one however, it works much better as you pick up even more details that the movie has that you didn’t realise on the first viewing. The ending is a little ambiguous and is easily debatable. I know of a couple of different interpretations of the movie, and without going into it, both versions give the movie layers, making it more than just a darkly funny movie about a narcissistic serial killer. The use of voiceover is pretty much pitch perfect, showing Patrick Bateman’s innermost thoughts, often to hilarious effect. The writing is very strong, and has incredibly quotable dialogue. From what I heard, the book written by Bret Easton Ellis was way more violent and controversial than what the movie showed, and based on some things I heard about it, writer/director Mary Harron and co-writer Guinevere Turner managed to get the right material from it and make the best movie possible. At an hour and 40 minutes long, I was entertained from beginning to end.
Christian Bale gives possibly his best performance to date as lead character Patrick Bateman. He brought this character to the big screen excellently, and completely embodied him. He was absolutely hilarious and absolutely magnetic on screen. The movie is very reliant on him being great, as he’s at the front of the movie from beginning to end, from the deliveries of lines, the comedic timing, and he definitely brought it. Taking on this role was such a big risk for Bale at this point in his career, in fact he was advised that playing it would be career suicide. However, the risk paid off, and it launched his career even further. It’s basically impossible picturing anyone else in the role of Bateman. There was a case where Leonardo DiCaprio nearly replaced Christian Bale, and as great of an actor that DiCaprio is, I can’t see him or really any other actor delivering what Bale did here. Other actors like Willem Dafoe, Reese Witherspoon and Jared Leto do well in their supporting roles.
Director Mary Harron directs this movie and she did an excellent job. She managed to capture the feeling of the 80s really well with her direction, especially when it came to the excess. Speaking of the 80s, the music choices were fitting and the use of it in the movie worked perfectly. The violence is bloody and over the top but often times its cartoonish, and most of the time is easily funny, especially when watching much of it on multiple viewings.
American Psycho is a movie that gets better the more you see it. A dark comedy, excellently written and directed, with a career best performance from Christian Bale at the centre of it, it’s one of my favourites. 20 years later it still holds up quite well. If you haven’t seen it, check it out, especially if you are a fan of dark comedies.