Cert: 18 Runtime: 102 mins Director: Mary Harron Cast: Christian Bale, Justin Theroux, Reese Witherspoon and Josh Lucas
You’re a fucking ugly bitch. I want to stab you to death, and then play around with your blood.
Christian Bale is one of the best actors in the world right now, prior to him being Batman he was Patrick Bateman in American Psycho back in 2000. This is the first blast from the past of 2012 so I have picked my one of my favourite films. Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) is handsome, well educated and intelligent. He is twenty-seven and living his own American dream. He works by day on Wall Street, earning a fortune to complement the one he was born with. At night he descends into madness, as he experiments with fear and violence.This is a personal-favorite, though I wonder how-much of it is really horror. It certainly has elements-of-horror, but I see it as more of a personal-allegory, and a social-one that would do Herman Melville proud. OK, it is horror! Social-horror: these are the people in-charge of our world! For those familiar-with the novel, this is a more toned-down affair by Mrs. Harron, a superb-director, who sticks-to the social-themes and implications of the story. There are some scenes of gore, but they are significantly toned-down and minimized, and I think the move was a wise-one. Sometimes, gore detracts too-much from the narrative and the themes of a film, but not here. Reagan America seems pretty innocent to us nowadays, but it was rife with greed and cronyism, and even some of the disastrous military-adventurism we are seeing today. Sadly, the militarist-culture of Reagan has continued. The seeds of present-day scandals and corruption were being planted during the 1980s.
Mary Harron and her screen writing partner have delivered the most faithful adaptation it would be possible to release without getting the film banned or revolting audiences so much that no one comes to see it. It would be IMPOSSIBLE to take some of the most extreme sequences from the book and commit them to film. What the movie instead does is to give us an insight into the stunningly fragile and insecure mind of Patrick Bateman, and to speculate whether his unstable nature would REALLY lead him to perpetrate vile acts, or whether he just fantasises about doing so.I think it matters little in the context of this film whether Bateman’s exploits are actually based in reality, because whether they are or they aren’t, Bateman is still left in the grip of paranoia, brought on by the shallowness of the society that is around him. Bateman is less of a ‘psycho’ than a vessel for all the selfish evils of society to corrupt, and a sensible audience is more likely to be left reeling at how he has been turned into a ‘robot’, than by the discreet amounts of gore that do feature in the movie.”American Psycho” is fascinating to watch because Bateman is such a complex character. We feel revulsion at his violent tendencies, amused by his complete superficiality, and pity at his crumbling sanity. In order to evoke such diverse feelings from one performance, we need a superb actor. Bale’s performance is right on the money. Never does HIS mask slip as does that of Patrick Bateman. He is completely believable in all his emotions.
There is NOTHING in the film that is not true to the book (although there are bits in the book that are not true to the film) Both the reading and watching experiences are valuable and rewarding ones, but what they share with each other is that while they’re exploring somebody else’s mental state, they are also probing that of their audience. Can we see the funny side in the fact that these murders were committed for very trivial reasons?Can we ridicule someone with the knowledge that he is also a fantastically dangerous person? The film and book are constantly pushing boundaries, and if you don’t fight that, but instead surrender to it, they will take you to many interesting places. Don’t be afraid to give in to your emotions and laugh when you see something funny, because the movie shows us what emotional repression has done to someone like Patrick.Kudos to Mary Harron for tackling a seriously difficult project and turning it into one of the cleverest movies of recent years. “American Psycho” is anything you want it to be; glossy and superficial, or deep and meaningful. The question is: Do you look at things from the same narrow angle as Patrick Bateman does? If so, then the movie is not for you…8.2/10