American Psycho * * * *
Directed by: Mary Harron / 2000
Before Christian Bale was everybody’s Batman (except for me), and soon to be John Connor and Robin Hood, he was Patrick Bateman. No wait, he still is Patrick Bateman, the multi-dimensional 1980s Wall Street socialite whose vices include body cleansing products, fine dining and grooming, business card hierarchy (which will especially have graphic designers busting their ego’s gut), gossip, spewing album reviews at random and doing two chicks at the same time. And killing…Patrick Bateman is a serial killer.
Based on Bret Easton Ellis’s novel (which, I’m still dying to read, no pun intended), “American Psycho” is wickedly comedic and well executed (again, no pun intended). What makes watching a madman killing people so entertaining and not in a “Horror Porn” way? I’m not really sure, but I believe the credit is owed to Bale’s performance as he puts on his best awesome-dude and demands attention with the appearance of a fine acting Matthew McConaughey. Twenty-six-year-old Patrick Bateman leads life from the top perches and with the wealth, attitude, fiancée, and all the right things to say to keep him in a position of power for years to come. But, underneath he is filled with rage, jealously, hate and materialism and it’s a real treat to see him unravel to the tune of his favorite Robert Palmer, Huey Lewis, Phil Collins or Whitney Houston song. It’s also a strange treat to see him chase a girl with a chainsaw. Oddly enough I watched the film eight years ago and I remember it being much more graphic and controversial. I don’t know what’s more disturbing, enjoying madmen murdering on screen, or the fact that I’m so desensitized to senseless violence?
Christian Bale is now a household name, but he will always be Patrick Bateman to me and I will gladly house him in “American Psycho”, in my library between fellow enjoyable rides on life, “American Graffiti” and “American Splendor”. With the exception of “The Machinist”, Bales recent performances feel to me like he’s willing to give so much more but there seems to be something or somebody holding him back. Maybe it’s Patrick Bateman waiting to come out and play again?