Quick Hit: A brilliant view of misogyny and corporate American culture.
It’s really kind of insane how many movies we have about corporate American culture and how shallow and corrupt it is. From The Game (which is criminally underseen by my generation) to The Wolf of Wall Street, you consistently see the same themes played out over and over. And yet, I would arguably say that American Psycho, which came out in the year 2000, is one of the best. Following Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale in the time before he became the Caped Crusader), this movie underwrites all your expectations.
There are several reasons why I think that this is one of the best. First, you have an excellent, subtle humor that pervades throughout the film. You have the very famous business card scene, with men comparing the size, texture, and thickness of their business cards in a not so subtle metaphor for… other things. You also have the running joke that these men, though rich and powerful, are constantly mistaken for each other. Allowing these to exist in a film as glaringly violent as this gives the audience a bit of a mental break that is extremely necessary.
There’s also an extremely minimalistic and yet futuristic view of architecture and interior design, specifically with Bateman’s apartment. Full of blacks and whites, the room simultaneously seems smaller and larger than what it is. When you throw all his gadgets in there, it’s much more difficult to place the actual time period where this takes place, and the filming style keeps you feeling like you are there.
Christian Bale is the absolute stand out in this performance. There are quite a few monologues that occur throughout the film, and if anything, Bale outdoes himself each time. One of the most classic is the one about all the 80s pop stars. Combine that with his physicality in the role, and you have the makings of a classic horror performance. Patrick Bateman is despicable, but at the same time he is remarkably fascinating.
The inevitable gratuitous violence and sexuality makes appearance here, but the violence, though glaring, is extremely well done. Rather than focus solely on the gore of the attacks, instead we get an almost artistic viewing of it (which in turn complements Bateman’s own views in what he is doing). There’s a wonderful shot where he is murdering someone with an axe (if you would have told me before I started reviewing movies I would type that sentence, I wouldn’t believe you) where blood sprays across his face. The shot reminds me of one that occurs in season one of Dexter, and it’s just a perfect representation of the shot.
The best part of all? The ambiguity that is laid by director/writer Mary Harron. Is this all happening in Bateman’s mind, as he plays out revenge fantasies in order to confirm his own masculinity? Or is he really murdering all these women? We may never really know. I’m giving American Psycho an “A-“.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"