American Psycho (2000) Directed by Mary Harron. With Christian Bale, Reese Witherspoon, Josh Lucas, Jared Leto, Justin Theroux, Chloe Sevigny.
Brett Easton Ellis’ controversial novel about 1980’s Wall Street executives and their power hungry penchant for materialism, is brought to life with jet-black wit and a star making performance from Christian Bale as murderous sociopath, Patrick Bateman.
Where the book is overly graphic in its descriptions of sexual violence and murder, Mary Harron’s film tastefully restrains itself by suggesting and implying the violence, as opposed to showing it, giving centre stage to Christian Bale’s colourful characterisation of a man consumed by vanity and an ever increasing blood lust. What’s particularly striking is how much humour Harron has mined from the novel and managed to get onscreen. In many ways, American Psycho plays as an unconventional comedy, with many of the scenes played for kind of laughs that only the more discerning of viewers will appreciate. The screenplay, co-penned by Mary Harron and Guinevere Turner cleverly trims down the more extreme elements of the original novel, but without sacrificing any of the overall message to produce something tighter and more incisive, thus proving against popular belief, that the book is not always better than the film.
Bateman’s gradual descent into madness might leave questions open at the end, but this isn’t a story that requires out-and-out resolution, as the growing sense of ambiguity around Patrick Bateman’s constantly mistaken identity gives way to more of a meditation on the state of indifference that these status obsessed men seem to exist within. A witty satire for people who like their comedy black. 4.5/5