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American Psycho – Review

American Psycho – Review

May 22, 2010

reviewed by hallo
directed by Mary Harron, 2000

I acknowledge from the outset that I am setting myself up for some pretty nasty comments on this review.  I have a hunch that unless you have anything but rave reviews for Mary Harron’s American Psycho, you risk being seen as “uncool” in the horror review world.  Alas, I am willing to sacrifice my apparent “cool” factor to provide what will be a sub-par review of the film.

American Psycho is the film adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’ novel about 80’s corporate America and the emptiness it embodies.  Christian Bale (now famous for Batman) portrays Patrick Bateman, a successful businessman who rates his own worth based on the style of his business card and his ability to make last-minute reservations at the city’s most upscale restaurants.  Bateman looks exactly like all the other “suits” in the film, underscoring the loss of any true identity or free-thinking.  Thus, American Psycho is a satire in every sense of the word, reminding us all that our worth and value must be placed at a standard beyond the office next door.  Because Bateman actually has no real influence or meaning apart from the office competitions, he finds his influence and power in the use of extreme violence among women, prostitutes, etc.

The theme of the movie (and novel) has some merit.  And to Bateman’s credit, he provides a good performance with a script that would seem to limit his ability to give one.  The problem is that the film continues to leave the viewer wondering:  “What?”  This is a movie that depends greatly on the need for graphic, over-the-top gore and violence which provides the critical juxtaposition of Bateman’s character.  Unfortunately, the film stays away from the graphic, descriptive elements and funnels into an annoying story of Bateman losing his mind to the point where the ending makes little sense.  This movie needs to get in the hands of the great Italian directors or even a satire master like Romero.  I think then the power of the theme might make more of an impact.  As it is, I was left underwhelmed and disappointed.

If that’s not cool, please forgive me.


  1. Rex /

    I actually enjoyed American Psycho for a number of reasons, one being it is intense in a graphic way that filmakers don’t have the opportunity to use in the United States much anymore (due to the former X now NC-17 kiss of death). As an aside, I don’t understand how the movie managed to avoid NC-17…In any event, I view American Psycho through a “wavy” lens of reality (i.e., I’m not sure that some of the graphic scenes we see actually occur, except in Bateman’s mind) and find it quite interesting. I also think he gives a great performance, and have some understanding of the 80s Wall Street mentality it is portrays and find it hilarious (it has some of the funniest, tightest dialogue–totally sold by Bateman–steming around lack of understanding/confusion…how he held it together in the prostitute scene with the Genesis discussion, etc., is beyond me). In any event, I don’t think it is a “classic”, but certainly I think it is interesting.

    “You like Huey Lewis and the News?”

  2. Hallo /

    Thanks for the comment! American Psycho really isn’t that explicit, it is much more suggestive, which as I mention in my review, is why the film fails in the biggest way. Even the Directors Cut (which was given a NC-17 rating, so it had to be trimmed down) is not that graphic. I suppose for the average “Batman” movie goer this might turn some heads, but for graphic, gore depictions, the film is very light. Bale was the perfect casting choice however and saves the film from being a total flop. I agree with you there!

  3. Renegade /

    I liked the movie I just wish someone would explain the ending to me.

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