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  • Gareth Crook

American Psycho (2000)

Updated: Jun 1, 2020

If I’m honest, I’m only here for Huey Lewis. Just kidding... although I do love Huey Lewis. I do love this film too though. It’s a rare occasion where I like the film as much as it’s source, maybe even more than. Easton Ellis’ book is a masterpiece, even more gruesome than what’s committed to screen here, but what it doesn’t have is Christian Bale. He’s on fire here, my favourite performance (he’s also great in The Machinist and Le Mans 66). Here though, as Patrick Bateman, the meticulous psychopathic yuppie, he’s magnificent. Bateman is cinematic gold, good looking, successful, intelligent and articulate. He’s also a stone cold, calculating killer. For an 80s yuppie, that most loathsome of sets, he’s oddly captivating, every bit the anti-hero. Narrating as he goes, Bale’s voice sounding unnervingly like Easton Ellis... or maybe Easton Ellis sounds like Bale?... or Bateman! Anyway, perhaps it’s the world in which he operates and it’s depiction that makes this work so well. Hyper-stylised restaurants with pretentious names, minimal apartment layouts, the obsessing over business cards and Bateman’s desire to fit in, but his competitiveness not allowing him to do so. This all provides a sleek clean surface for Bateman to cover in blood with devastating effect. He’s annoyingly likeable... until he kills a homeless man and his dog. However on the flip side, minutes later, it’s Huey time! Gleaming Axe, transparent raincoat and the idiot Jared Leto lured back to Bateman’s apartment. Paul Allen (Leto) you see has upset Bateman. He has a better haircut, can get reservations at in vogue restaurant Dorsia, even has a better business card and mistakes him for someone else, as do several others. He’s in trouble and it’s not long until he’s hacked to pieces as ‘Hip to be Square’ blasts out. This though might be his undoing as private detective Kimball (Willem Dafoe) is drafted in to find Allen and harass Bateman. He knows something’s up, that unmistakable smile meeting Bateman’s pouting frown, but their exchanges are more awkward than anything else. It’s an odd film, no one is likeable to any degree, sexist Wall Street morons, drugged up socialites. Everyone is vile. There’s very little thread to it either, aside Bateman’s insecurities. Even the persistent detective feels like a nuisance sub plot to the killing spree. Ultimately it’s Bateman’s slip into more and more extreme and sadistic behaviour that drives this, with the sight of him running naked and blood splattered through the hallway with a chainsaw and him sweating profusely in designer suits as the minutes pass by being the more notable events. Bateman knows he’s coming apart, but his lack of emotions confuse him. As he slides further it’s difficult to get a grip if events are real or part of his deepening psychosis. It’s chilling in it’s pointlessness, but fantastic and makes me want to pick up the book again, but first... I have to return some videotapes.



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