American Psycho (2000)
March 18, 2018 11:01 AM - Subscribe

A wealthy New York 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.

Roger Ebert: It's just as well a woman directed "American Psycho." She's transformed a novel about blood lust into a movie about men's vanity. A male director might have thought Patrick Bateman, the hero of "American Psycho," was a serial killer because of psychological twists, but Mary Harron sees him as a guy who's prey to the usual male drives and compulsions. He just acts out a little more.

Slant: More so than the book, the film is a nightmarish vision of ’80s self-involvement. If all of Ellis’s characters more or less stay the same, Harron’s film suggests that, like the ’80s, Bateman to shall pass. He is something we must all collectively learn to survive. There is an exit—it’s just called the future.

NYTimes: In draining off the novel's fat, Ms. Harron has strengthened and clarified Mr. Ellis's angry satire of the greed-is-good decade and the confusion between surface and substance in so much of American life. As Patrick embarks on his series of grisly murders, each of which only whets his appetite for further carnage, the movie portrays his acts of violence as increasingly frustrated attempts to be noticed. But either Patrick's armor of designer labels and hard-bodied readiness is impenetrable or else no one wants to look below his surface to the murderous inner child. Ultimately, his escalating blood lust gives new meaning to the term ''narcissistic rage.''

As Patrick's rampage gathers force, the movie's air of unreality sharpens, and his crimes are committed in surreally empty spaces. No matter how ghoulish his behavior, the movie lends it a ghastly high-gloss chic. During one murder, Patrick wields the most gleaming designer ax you've ever seen. Instead of showing that ax splitting human flesh, the movie shows only the victim's blood spraying the murderer in a voluptuous crimson whoosh. For a split second, Patrick suggests a psychopathic yuppie Jackson Pollock wearing a werewolf grimace as he stands triumphantly over a freshly splattered canvas.

As brilliantly as the movie's visual style evokes a world spat out by a Vanity Fair art director, ''American Psycho'' remains a one-joke satire of materialism and soullessness. It's a joke we would like to think we've got. Having arrived safely in the year 2000, it would be easy to shrug off ''American Psycho'' as the last cinematic word on an embarrassingly gluttonous cultural moment that has gone the way of Patrick's favorite murderous background anthem, ''Hip to Be Square.'' But has it?

Trailer

Filming Locations

American Psycho Ending: What Really Happened?

American Psycho? Exploring the Polarizing Ending of Mary Harron’s Film

American Psycho: the story behind the film

Read This: How Mary Harron made a feminist film out of American Psycho

How American Psycho became a feminist statement

American Psycho: materialism, misogyny, and machismo

The Female Gaze of ‘American Psycho’: How Mary Harron Made Fantasy Into Timeless Satire

Read Patrick Bateman's lost emails from American Psycho film

‘American Psycho’: Ten Years Later/Twenty Years Later

'AMERICAN PSYCHO': A conversation about the film adaptation of "American Psycho," with author Brett Easton Ellis, director Mary Herron, and Christian Bale--the film's star.

'American Psycho' at 25: Bret Easton Ellis on Patrick Bateman's Legacy

Bret Easton Ellis Regrets Linking Huey Lewis and the News to 'American Psycho'
posted by MoonOrb (30 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 


On reflection I'm not at all sure why we don't talk about this movie today the way we talk about other standout movies of the same time range. The execution was absolutely fantastic, Bale and all of his costars were fantastic, and that business card scene.
posted by ftm at 12:45 PM on March 18, 2018 [3 favorites]


If all of Ellis’s characters more or less stay the same, Harron’s film suggests that, like the ’80s, Bateman to shall pass. He is something we must all collectively learn to survive. There is an exit—it’s just called the future.

*looks at contents of White House* Uh yeah. Hate to tell you this but..
posted by happyroach at 2:19 PM on March 18, 2018 [5 favorites]


I took a blind date to this movie. She didn't call me back.

The end.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 2:27 PM on March 18, 2018 [4 favorites]


Maybe you should have taken her to the audio described screening?
posted by pmcp at 5:58 PM on March 18, 2018 [7 favorites]


On reflection I'm not at all sure why we don't talk about this movie today the way we talk about other standout movies of the same time range.

I had never read any Ellis when this movie came out, I saw it in the theater and have not seen it again since. I enjoyed the weird dive into skin care products and the scene with the business cards stood out and has remained the most memorable part of the movie. But all the horrific murdering of women as an aesthetic choice and the ending, did it really happen? Was that just an ironic stylization of misogyny? At the time I thought it was a good movie but it was also disturbing enough that I never sought out a rewatch
posted by ActingTheGoat at 6:57 PM on March 18, 2018


I tend to disagree with Mary Harron regarding the ending; it works beautifully with the surrealism of the rest of the movie as the morbid fantasies of someone whose life is so empty and meaningless that he obsesses over his morning skincare routine and the precise color and font used for his and his colleagues' business cards.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:16 PM on March 18, 2018 [1 favorite]


I hated this movie.
posted by orange swan at 9:12 PM on March 18, 2018


On reflection I'm not at all sure why we don't talk about this movie today the way we talk about other standout movies of the same time range.

who's we?? I certainly do! enough to have driven several people mad with the repetitive tedium of it all. nobody since Mary Harron has ever known quite what to do with either BEE or Christian Bale. it always seems like they ought to be very useful for something. but what?

she's a wonder of the world. I'm not sure I've ever seen this a second time but I've never seen I Shot Andy Warhol again since seeing it in the theaters either. I don't have to, it lingers.
posted by queenofbithynia at 9:28 PM on March 18, 2018 [3 favorites]


she's a wonder of the world.

queenoftheb! (liberties taken) a quick perusal of imdb suggests that the only Mary Harron I've seen is American Pscho. Do I need I Shot Andy Warhol next, or is there something else that I should consider in case end up I going with Minnesota Nice/Seattle Freeze/L.A. Let's get together sometime/Northern California we should go to Place X at Time Y (and never mention it again.)
posted by ActingTheGoat at 10:35 PM on March 18, 2018 [1 favorite]


BATEMAN
OMG

(I realize someone probably realized this 14 years ago, but I just twigged to it now and am now picking pieces of my mind up off the floor.)
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:19 AM on March 19, 2018 [4 favorites]


Bale's early work was a little too new wave for my taste. But when Swing Kids came out in '93 I think he really came into his own, commercially and artistically. The whole film has a clear, crisp look, and a new sheen of consummate professionalism that really gives his performance a big boost. He's been compared to Tom Cruise, but I think Christian has a far more bitter, cynical sense of humor.
posted by Justinian at 12:28 AM on March 19, 2018 [11 favorites]


This is a great movie.

And Ellis' comments on it (basically, he didn't like it because it was directed by a woman) convinced me that he's an idiot.
posted by kyrademon at 4:36 AM on March 19, 2018


This movie made me realize just how enjoyable Huey Lewis and the News really are.
posted by kevinbelt at 8:04 AM on March 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


I never understood the clean apartment being proof that it was all a fantasy.
Like a realtor would let a few dismembered bodies come between them and a sale.
posted by fullerine at 8:31 AM on March 19, 2018 [3 favorites]


FEED ME A STRAY CAT
posted by ODiV at 8:46 AM on March 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


Bale's early work was a little too new wave for my taste.

...Empire of the Sun? ???
posted by praemunire at 9:48 AM on March 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


Do I need I Shot Andy Warhol next

yes! it's been...however long since it came out since I've seen it, but it's very good. but bleak and less and less funny as it goes on. I have this vague memory of Warhol fans being somehow angry about it for some fool reason but I don't think they had any good reason to be.
posted by queenofbithynia at 10:26 AM on March 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


For all the problematic issues the movie might have, it has fantastic scenes. The business card scene and his opinions on music are often my go-to references for when I'm going a bit too deep over font selection, and of course, when a band I like suddenly decides to release crap.
Bale does some incredible acting on it. His latent rage over the most trivial shit is what makes the whole movie.

Brb, returning videotapes.
posted by lmfsilva at 1:17 PM on March 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


I loved Huey Lewis and the News.

A lot of people aren't aware of the harmonic genius of the group, and how their harmony supports the text of the song. "Stuck With You" reaches such a state of exultation each chorus because it momentarily changes key by one whole step—it is not that the chord changes from G/A (in C) to D, but that the entire song is "lifted" for a moment into D. If you listen to Lewis approach the chorus, and leave the chorus, you will hear the subtly expressive passing tones that feel ever so slightly "off" or like blue notes, as the key of D is established or disestablished. But in the closing choruses, as Huey sings "and I can see... that you're happy to be stuck with me", the song does not return to C. His voice, rather than wending its way lower to return to C, reaches the height of emotion with a run ending in F#, the happy major third of D, and we are indeed happy to be stuck there.
posted by sylvanshine at 2:49 PM on March 19, 2018 [8 favorites]


I have this vague memory of Warhol fans being somehow angry about it for some fool reason but I don't think they had any good reason to be.

Lou Reed (who knew Warhol) asked how people would feel if someone made a movie titled I Shot John Lennon. (Of course, Jared Leto did make a Mark David Chapman movie, and although Lennon's survivors objected at the time, practically nobody saw it. And Lou Reed was hardly one to complain about other people being insensitive.)

As for the movie itself, I remember liking it more than I expected to, although I've generally enjoyed Lili Taylor in just about everything that I've seen her in.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:48 AM on March 20, 2018


One of the few movies where I read the book first. The movie is a classic, but the book was much more ambiguous and integrated to me, which I liked. In the movie, I think the most honest view of Bateman is when he's breaking up with Reese Witherspoon at the end. He's such a compartmentalized character that that's one of the only times in the movie where it's really apparent that interior and exterior are colliding with reality.

I think the ending could have been different in general (cf. Irma Vep), but really the worst I think could be said about it is that it feels like she was leaving space for a sequel.
posted by rhizome at 12:31 PM on March 20, 2018


This movie is why Christian Bale could never work as Batman for me. He was absolutely perfect as Bateman.
posted by LizBoBiz at 2:04 PM on March 20, 2018


This is why in my head canon, Wayne on his days off as Batman becomes Bateman.
posted by lmfsilva at 7:28 AM on March 21, 2018 [1 favorite]


Bateman Begins
posted by ActingTheGoat at 7:59 AM on March 21, 2018 [3 favorites]


I'm getting the feeling many of you didn't read the book.
posted by miss-lapin at 1:56 AM on March 22, 2018


I read the book in the early 90s after being awake for 2 days following a rave on a pleasure boat.
Now that was an experience.
posted by fullerine at 5:42 AM on March 22, 2018 [2 favorites]


I read it while temping at an old-guard market research company, and they were a little curious about it. "You ever see Less Than Zero? Same author." was my diplomatic response.
posted by rhizome at 9:54 AM on March 22, 2018


Y'all realize there is an American Psycho 2, right? Right?
posted by Pig Tail Orchestra at 6:30 AM on March 23, 2018


Yeah, right, and next thing, you're going to tell me they made two more Matrix movies and a second Highlander.



(I've heard it's so bad, even the actors disowned it)
posted by lmfsilva at 2:02 PM on March 23, 2018 [1 favorite]


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