It would be hard to find a more scathing indictment of the 1980s than "American Psycho." You know, that book about the murderous yuppie.
And if anything, the movie is even more wonderfully brutal than Brett Easton Ellis original book -- a scathing, unnerving movie that swings between savage violence and hilariously sick social satire. But what really makes it work is Christian Bale, who is utterly perfect as the titular American psycho. Every smile, snarl and twitch from this man is utterly perfect.
Patrick Bateman (Bale) is the perfect yuppie -- he has a high-paying job and a beautiful fiancee (Reese Witherspoon). He dines at all the best restaurants and goes to the best clubs. He keeps his body, New York apartment and wardrobe in perfect condition, and gives detailed descriptions of his designer clothes, beauty products and music collection.
But when his associate Paul (Jared Leto) flaunts a business card that is superior to Bateman's, it sends him into a psychotic rage -- first he kills an old man and his dog, then he cheerily axes Paul to death. A detective named Donald Kimball (Willem Defoe) investigates Paul's disappearance, but doesn't seem to connect Bateman to the man's disappearance despite his many lies.
As the days roll by, Bateman's homicidal urges begin to spiral out of control as he kills more and more people, descending deeper and deeper into his own bloody madness. Will he finally be caught for his crimes, and will his insanity finally swallow him up?
It sounds like a cliche, but "American Psycho" is all about the emptiness of a life without real substance. Every part of Patrick Bateman's life is carefully chosen for the image it gives him. Within that shell of material wealth is a howling void, and the only thing that fills that soul-destroying emptiness is hate, rage and violence.
But Mary Harron doesn't preach to you. She starts the story off relatively quietly, following Bateman around his everyday life -- only interrupted by brief explosions of violence ("I want to stab you to death, and then play around with your blood"). But as the movie unfolds, the story becomes more gruesome -- and more surreal. By the finale, the world has been warped into a bloody funhouse mirror where nothing can be trusted.
Consider: an ATM demands that Bateman feed it a cat... and he does. He manages to kill a prostitute by FLINGING A CHAINSAW DOWN A STAIRWELL. And he cheerfully dances through his apartment in a tidy raincoat, babbling about music right before he axes his nemesis in the head.
Christian Bale is scarily brilliant in this role, in the way that only the best actors can be. Not everybody can play a psychotic this perfectly. Reportedly he based his performance on Tom Cruise, and I can see that -- Bateman greets the world with a friendly voice and a shiny smile. But his eyes are cold and empty, except when the rage and hate begins to well up behind them.
And yet... and yet Bale still manages to make you feel vaguely sorry for Bateman every now and then. He's insane, empty and seems to yearn for the human connections he only knows about through songs. He's pitiable, freakish and terrifying.
"American Psycho" is wickedly funny, surreal and gruesome -- and Christian Bale is utterly sublime as a psycho that nobody seems to recognize. Absolutely stunning.
on 19 June 2003
An adaptaion of a novel of the same name, American Psycho stars an excellent Christian Bale as the strutting, Narcissistic corporate high-flyer Patrick Bateman (a nod to Norman Bates?), in a mind-numbingly artficial and greed-obsessed mid '80's. His colleagues and acquaintances (and, indeed, Patrick himself, as he admits in the beginning) are completely hollow, devoid of any emotion and concerned only with prestige enhancing finery like business cards and restaurant reservations.
Patrick is different, however, in that he occasionally breaks free of this drudgery by committing deranged and brutal murders (in an almost whimsical fashion). The balance between Patrick's smooth facade and his psychopathic cravings begins to collapse, and this is where we join the movie.
Bale's performance is outstanding. He shows all the characteristics of a serial killer (obsessive neatness, ridiculous over-articulation and a pedantic hyperanalysis of everything from business cards to Phil Collins albums) but in an incredibly subtle and underplayed way, as befits someone who is trying to keep this in check. Interestingly, the one person he can't bring himself to kill might well be the only genuine human being in the film: his secretary (Chloe Sevigny).
As with many films made in the early noughties, there is a twist towards the end which only reinforces Patrick's overwhelming normalness and is completely believable having listened to his opening speech.
A very intelligent and stylish film.
Yes, many enjoyed Christian Bale’s (excellent) turn as Bruce Wayne in Nolan’s Batman trilogy. However, there are few occasions where an actor shines so bright that it becomes impossible to see anyone else ever playing the role. In this case... yuppie, eighties serial killer ‘Patrick Bateman.’
‘American Psycho’ started off life as a book (which I strongly recommend you read if you enjoyed the film) and sat around in filmic-limbo for years before it finally made its way to the big screen. The book was one of those titles where die-hard fans argued so hard that it was ‘impossible’ to make into a film that no studio dared go that extra mile and attempt it.
Now, the end result is certainly different to the book. The book had numerous complex points and sub-plots which would have stretched the film out for hours. However, just because the film skips vast areas, doesn’t mean it doesn’t hit the nail on the head. What you’re left with is a ‘summarised’ version of the film (and a very good one).
Patrick Bateman is the titular ‘American Psycho’ who works on Wall Street in the eighties and leads a double life as a high-flying businessman and a complete nut-job who, by his own admission like to ‘dissect women.’ And he does just that.
Feminists have given many labels to this film which indicate that it’s misogynistic and demeaning to women. They may have a point here and there. Bateman (along with his cronies) regularly objectify women and are basically only after one thing (two in Bateman’s case, as he also likes to murder his dates). However, we’re never shown that this is some sort of example for men to adhere to. We only tolerate Bateman’s madness because he entertains us. The only thing that equals his brutality is his charm (as, apparently, is a trait of many a convicted killer/psychopath) and he, like Bale who performs him, is a joy to watch.
There isn’t as much gore as you may expect (certainly the book is a million times more graphic) and much of the violence is left up to the viewers’ imagination (what did he do with that coat hanger after all?), so gore-hounds beware – if you’re just looking for the ‘red stuff,’ you may be left feeling short-changed.
Fan of Bale will probably already have seen it. It’s certainly a vehicle for him to keep on his C.V. It never claims to be nice and you’re going to have to be into ‘serial killer’ type movies to get something out of it. Just – whatever you do – don’t watch the sequel (or feed me a stray cat).
on 30 November 2006
This movie was rather misinterpreted by the adverts for it when it was released; it is technically a horror film but in truth, it is much more comical than the creepy adverts made out. The story follows successful, nigh-on-perfect Patrick Bateman, a handsome business man who by day lives a tedious life in constant competition with his colleagues over ridiculous things such as who has the best business card and who can get the best reservations. Yet behind this montonous but normal life, Patrick is losing his mind and spends his nights succumbing to an ever-growing bloodlust and paranoia. Christian Bale couldn't have been a more perfect choice for this role; he delivers every line brilliantly. The supporting cast is also spectacular; Jared Leto plays an arrogant, ultimately doomed colleague, Chloe Sevigny is Bateman's shy secretary and the one person who seems to 'get' him. Reese Witherspoon makes brief but brilliant appearances as his fiance. Bateman's murder sprees are much more amusing than they are disturbing (watch out for him running around naked wielding a chainsaw) and provide a few good laughs, as does his obsession with looking good. Any movie that can have the killer taking time to exfoliate and make it work is a winner in my book! The story is highly original; I won't deny that I was completely lost in the last 5 minutes of the film but it's so entertaining I didn't even mind. This is a top quality film made even better by superb acting and directing. Buy it.
on 6 July 2015
This new edition contains 2 Audio Commentaries, Deleted Scenes with Director Commentary, The 80s Countdown, American Psycho: From Book To Screen - including The Pornography Of Killing, a video essay by Holly Willis
on 15 March 2016
Classic movie with one of Christian Bale's best performances. If you haven't seen it, it's one of the most unique movies of the late 90s (2000)
2 Audio commentaries - The commentary with Director Mary Harron is good. She has plenty relevant to say. Haven't listened to the commentary with writer Guinever Turner.
Deleted Scenes - The deleted scenes are presented along with short, on set interviews with cast members and have an optional commentary track with Mary Harron. One of the deleted scenes is in a Nightclub. Justin Theroux and Christian Bale are shout-talking to each other but it's funny because the music hasn't been put in. There's six scenes in total and are definiteley worth watching, even though the sound mixing hasn't been done on them.
'The 80's downtown' and from 'book to screen' featurettes - These featurettes are hilariously bad. The editing and graphics make me think these are from the first dvd release, which was when dvds and special features were a new medium. 'The 80s downtown' is only looseley related to the film, pretentious New York hipsters reminisce about the debauchery of new york in the period of the film. 'book to screen' was clearly made by the same folks and uses a lot of the same interviewees. It has a lot of interested information about the film, mostly during the pr-production process, like Leonardo DiCaprio being determined to star as Bateman, against Hannon's wishes.
I don't believe there are any new special features for this release,apart from the menu screen, and you can tell that they were put together around the year 2000 but i found them interesting anyway.
on 13 February 2016
Mary Harron’s superb American Psycho (2000) did what everyone said couldn’t be done: turned Bret Easton Ellis’s masterpiece into a film.
Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) is young, rich and handsome in eighties New York, but he has one issue: a taste for murder. Can Patrick continue getting away with it?
The film oozes eighties cool: the suits, the hair, the music, the clubs, the apartments, the dresses, the dinners and of course the money. Harron and Guinevere Turner’s script is crisp, frightening and funny. Although the film is Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) brutal, they skilfully reared it in compared to the source material. The script’s quality pulls you in so many conflicting directions: are we supposed to laugh or hide behind our popcorn? Is this happening or not? And the odd feeling of do we want Patrick to get caught… or not?
American Psycho gets pretty much everything right: music by John Cale will have you singing the pop songs days later; duel visuals by cinematographer Andrzej Sekula shows grim New York streets of the homeless, against the decadence of Wall Street, which keeps in harmony with the film’s conflicting theme; Isis Mussenden’s costume design is detail perfect, rather than hamming it up with Dallas-like shoulder pads, Mussenden clothes the cast with sophistication and taste; and let’s not forget a career launching performance from the always great Bale as Patrick: that glazed stare, privileged accent, creaseless shirt and flawless physique says more about the character than hours of exposition ever could.
A terrific film adapted from one of my favourite books by my favourite author. I didn’t get the film when I first watched it, which was before reading Ellis’s novel. Once I read the book I returned to the film and really enjoy it.
on 15 August 2010
American psycho is set in the late 1980s and stars Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman, a wealthy vice president of a Wall Street firm. Extremely competitive and lacking empathy, Bateman enjoys a stress free life of fine dining and other earthly pleasures. However he also a flip side which he now find increasingly difficult to hide............
The film has all the hallmarks of a suspenseful serial killer film. It is very eerie and there is a lot of physical and psychological detail to it. It's also about materialism, so expect many spiffy cast members in designer suits. Many parts of the film are under played and subtle. Having said that, some parts make for graphic viewing, ranging from experimental threesomes to Bateman running stark naked, fully armed with a chainsaw! Make no mistake - the filmmakers make it clear from the offset that they intend to tackle the subject matter fully. Surprisingly it is also very funny and can class itself as a black comedy.
The main question arising is - is Bateman a killer? The answer is yes he probably is but not every murder is real, some are imagined. This is because the film has patches of near mythical scenes lacking logic and these give away the fact that Bateman is also a dreamer. American Psycho turns out to be an unsolved jigsaw puzzle and without doubt proves the level of insanity experienced by Bateman.
Immensely watchable and working on so many levels, it's a clever film similar to the now famous TV programme - Dexter. The reason the filmmakers deserve so much credit is because a more straight forward method could have been successfully followed, but having adopted this particular approach and with so much conviction; demonstrates that initiative has been shown.
Christian Bale's performance is excellent and just like his exterior; it's tidy and sharp. It's not his first film, but it is the film that introduced him as a bankable actor. His performance is possibly only bettered by his later roles in The Machinist and Harsh Times. It proves that along with Edward Norton he is one of the greatest actors of his generation at least.
on 23 August 2009
Patrick Bateman (Bale) lives and works on Wall Street, projecting an image of perfection in his busy schedule, but at night, he descends into his own experiments and fantasises.
Christian Bale stars as Patrick Bateman in this Mary Hannon picture and with his sophisticated approach to the needy and greedy protagonist, do we viewers dive into a world where social class is everything to be successful.
As the film gets under way we see the central character describe himself as an intelligent being, a man who knows what and who he likes and aims to keep it that way. Starting at a posh restaurant with his colleagues discussing the local works trends and social gossip do we get a picture of what working on Wall Street is like.
American Psycho is adapted from Bret Easton Ellis's novel, and the author has clearly a colourful picture on the minds of the highly prestigious workmen in America. This screenplay is marvellous, owing to the fact that Bale's character is so well thought out; a protagonist to envy and to identify with. His work is tame; his colleagues are infuriating whilst his fiancée annoys the living daylights out of him.
But he continues down the same path owing to the fact he must project an important image; an image of power and success. The attitude of Bateman is quite remarkable. His self loving success driven mindset is staggering, and the Dark Knight actor is frankly remarkable in this role
Many films of course look at social class workings or stereotypes. From the significant upbringing and destiny surrounding Eddie Murphy in Trading Places to the way strangers and criminals look at Sidney Poitier's cop in In the Heat of the Night but with this 2000 release, you get a significant feeling that the way you walk and talk generally affects you persona and your presentation to others, which arguably decides the fate of this film.
Bateman's constant conformity to the general high standards of Wall Street leave him wanting more and when he is at home watching porn, experimenting with face products or doing his exercise regimes, he descends into a world of madness, and this is where the film drives into exciting mystery.
After Paul Allen shows him a business card and forgets his name once too often, Bateman introduces him to his axe, and after this arguably frightening sequence, the character base is set and the expectancy to see Bateman's next move is anticipation of the highest degree.
Honestly even as the caped crusader Bale has never been more impressive. His depiction of this character is completely accurate and interesting. He derives from a standard of madness and makes it fascinating psychologically whilst oddly, surprisingly comic at various points. The character is a joy; a privilege to watch and observe and the madness may give Hamlet a run for his money. A must watch for the sheer brilliance of the character development and Bale's performance.
on 12 July 2009
THIS is an american dream in it's nemesis and it is both haunting and horrid yet it rings true in every frame as BATEMAN ,A YOUNG YUPPIE WALL STREET EXEC mystifies you with his ivy league polish ,his designer suits with a perfect fit on chiselled and perfectly sculpted frame with a physique that men will die for ,which he arrogantly dismisses of as 'i look after myself' ,but he also has accessories and they are rather nasty nocturnal tools which are utilized for slicing open his female victims as a sex serial killer .
The idea of a polished ,ultra chic ,sophisticated western man trained to perfection who is the worst fiend in reality is a very painful look at the american dream as it blames the pressures and over riddled social expectations from youth as the reason for their psychotic behaviour as perfection is indeed redundant and inaccessible ,so an easy way out to channel your human energy will be the negativity of evil and here it turns to carnage with bodies piling up in cold storage kitchens in plastic wraps ,while out in daylight in high rise haven Bateman lives a shimmering ,ideal life as the most brilliant inmate of a prestigious financial firm ,ONLY to return to his luxury apartment called sardonically as perfect american gardens which serves as a human abbatoir.
A satire on both humanity and the system that has created the disaffected monsters ,it has humour imbued in every sequence with miniscule details that stun me every time i see it .
Christian Bale as the polished ,picture perfect hunk is hypnotic ,both in and out of clothes as he flaunts his torso and deltoids and sex techniques and finally his prowess with a chainsaw .
Bale has had other great roles as HARSH TIMES and DARK KNIGHT ,but this is his signature role and still his best to date and it turns the world we live in upside down in a very oblique view of Capitalism ,designer names and the drug prostitution culture rampant in the upper echelons of social strata .
A very supercilious ,sophisticated yet sobering look at the contemporary upper middle class culture breeding in the metropolitan scene which is disturbing but relevant in every gory offence committed in the name of Narcissism