Review: American Psycho (2000)

American Psycho (2000)

Directed by: Mary Harron | 102 minutes | drama, horror, thriller | Actors: Christian Bale, Willem Dafoe, Chloë Sevigny, Reese Witherspoon, Justin Theroux, Josh Lucas, Bill Sage, Samantha Mathis, Matt Ross, Jared Leto, Cara Seymour, Guinevere Turner, Stephen Bogaert, Monika Meier, Reg E. Cathey

In the late 1980s, writer Bret Easton Ellis made a careful attempt to expose the yuppie life of the decade that lay behind him. His 400+ page novel American Psycho is a laundry list of outward appearances, almost a handbook for anyone with aspirations to become yup. Only for career freaks you would say. But main character Patrick Bateman is not happy. He is numb and nothing satisfies him anymore. Maybe a yoga class, or falling in love with a secretary? No, it is not. He dissects human bodies, just to feel something. Patrick Bateman goes in search of increasingly extreme deeds, while his despair only grows.

Bret Easton Ellis and later filmmaker Mary Harron have not seen their world turn to gold by ‘American Psycho’. Critics who failed to see that Bateman is not human but a model for the numbness of an era found Ellis perverted and Harron could not interest a well-known Hollywood actor for the lead. With Christian Bale as Bateman she made a solid, but also chilly film. The shred of humanity that the Bateman from the book still had is completely gone in the film; the violence becomes satire, losing its emotional charge. Nevertheless, Harron has succeeded well in filling the big pill full of ‘places to be’ in New York, extensive descriptions of eighties music (Whitney Houston, Huey Lewis & the News, Phil Collins) and characterizations of the rich to an hour and a half. to form, a psychological horror film with a light thriller element. Bateman’s attempts to make his desperation clear to those around him come out well at the end, but ‘American Psycho’ remains an ‘action film’ nonetheless.

‘American Psycho’ really makes you understand why a book – and in this case a thick book – is sometimes preferable to a movie. The violence causes the image to dominate the message. Christian Bale is a kind of android à la ‘Blade Runner’ and as a result the film threatens to lean towards a parody of violence, while the book is a sketch of morals. The film is a good attempt to make the impossible come true.

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