Plot – A wealthy New York City investment banking executive, Patrick Bateman, hides his alternate psychopathic ego from his co-workers and friends as he delves deeper into his violent, hedonistic fantasies – American Psycho.
Director – Mary Harron
Released – 2000
American Psycho remains a fascinating watch, mainly because of how complex Bateman is as a character. As an audience, his violent actions and fantasies are revolting, while at the same time, we’re amused by his incompetence and the jealousy he feels towards his colleagues as his sanity crumbles. In order to evoke such mixed emotions in the audiences, the movie required an actor who was up to the job. Bale was such an actor. His performance is electrifying, entirely encompassing the role, and never once does the mask slip.
Blending horror and comedy, Mary Harron’s American Psycho does a superb job of deconstructing the masculinity of the metrosexual male, depicting them as a self-obsessed and gossipy group of preening peacocks. They’re always looking to outdo each other with the flashiest apartment, biggest deals, and the perfect business card. And Bateman is the epitome of this: a high paid job, a large apartment in New York City and a beautiful fiancée played by Reese Witherspoon, yet he’s devoured by a constant urge for more, with this desire and realisation that he can get away with murder, eventually pushing him over the edge and destroying his moral compass entirely.
Touching the sides of what Bateman is capable of, the downside to American Psycho is perhaps that it didn’t hit as hard as the book and as a result, the movie falls just short of the masterpiece it could well have been. Especially with the ending, which is thoroughly entertaining, yet the big reveal didn’t quite have the same impact as Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island or Christopher Nolan’s Memento. Nevertheless, American Psycho is a fine piece of cinema filled with beautiful cinematography, great acting, skilled writing. It’s a real shame that Harron has so failed to live up to the high standards she set twenty years ago.