Tuesday, July 7, 2015

A Reservation in Dorsia: American Psycho (2000)

American Psycho (2000)
Rating: ****1/2
Starring: Christian Bale, Justin Theroux, Josh Lucas

"My pain is constant and sharp, and I do not hope for a better world for anyone. In fact, I want my pain to be inflicted on others. I want no one to escape. But even after admitting this, there is no catharsis; my punishment continues to elude me, and I gain no deeper knowledge of myself. No new knowledge can be extracted from my telling. This confession has meant nothing."

The late 80s were considered by some as the years of the yuppies, when rich men were at their finest and suburbia was under their whim. More or less, these men and women care little about others but still thrive to top them and remain at that status as long as they wish. Call them greedy, call them shallow, but call them crazy? Close, very close.

Meet Patrick Bateman, an investment banker living in the high grounds of the late 1980s. By day, he's your usual rich-type; a healthy dosage of exercises and beautification every morning, discussing couture and opinions among others in the firm, rethinking his preferences for leisurely entertainment such as music, and dining in expensive restaurants. He may live a shallow existence but he is doing his darn best to break the routine by night, as he becomes someone rather dangerous; a psychopath.

Killing homeless people, hookers, and a few around his peers whom he really dislikes, we follow Mr. Bateman as he prowls the streets for potential victims, murder with much hysteria and evade capture, all for the sake of doing it out of a sick passion. But how long exactly can his psyche stand all this violence? How long can he hold the facade of perfection if the mask of own sanity is starting to slip away?

Based on a controversial 1991 novel of the same name by Bret Easton Ellis, American Psycho is an oddly quirky, if not a darkly comedic look into the supposed imperfections of society through the eyes of a deranged yuppie. Most of the film is highlighted through the narration of the character's own thoughts, which is really nothing more than trivial knowledge of quality music, clothes, lifestyle, all the materialistic needs a shallow man would want. I find this approach quite intriguing as it does allow us to study the individual voicing them as he goes through situations that would trigger sympathy, guilt, and desperation, things that Mr. Bateman doesn't seem to fully grasp. The result is us watching a man pushing the boundaries of his own morality, taking a toll of his already fragile state of mind and existence.

That being said, American Psycho is a thriller with a bit of a character study. There really isn't major plot for the whole film, just us following what goes around his head while he commit these horrible murders. The closest thing we got as a story was that of a minor plot concerning the infamous axe murder of Paul Allen, an associate of Patrick and a man that a lot of people kept confusing him for. The murder pushed the film right into full horror gear as we watch our protagonist murder his way through individuals in manners more gruesome than the last, ultimately putting him in a sort of paranoiac and near disillusioned state. It all soon leads to full-on climatic shooting spree that ends with a very ambiguous note, making us all rethink to what we really saw.

Much of the movie's workable repeat viewing comes from Christian Bale's own performance as Bateman, working an ambitious role with a wide array of emotions despite his character being dissociated with the rest of the world in the inside. The character's snobbish and figure obsessed persona worked pretty well with Bale's body language and build, though I can't shake the feeling a part of this film was directed to fan girls as we actually get to see a lot of Bale's buns and very little of anybody else's. Then again, the film was supposed to highlight his character's madness so I guess most of the nudity focuses on him as well? Whatever the reason was, at least it made an ironic comparison between Bateman's obsession of perfecting his body while at the same time obsesses on destroying others'.

Seeing this is a big budget production, you can bet your good two cents that the quality of the movie is top notch. While there were some issues concerning clothing brands bitching about their reputation when their clothes, bags and other stuffs are used during the film's gruesome scenes, everything else in the production worked pretty well; camera work is beautiful and I loved the fact that our American psycho murders to the hippest songs for its time. Composer John Cale also worked a way to further staple Patrick's fantastic obsession for chaos through a score that's dreamy, soft, and beautiful.

The writing is witty and funny enough to cater for black comic enthusiasts and while the lack of gore may turn off some horror fans (especially those who are loyal to the book), the kills are brutal enough without the excessive detail. In a way, I am glad they didn't made it as violent as the book since, the way I see it, it might just distract us from the film's message against ego, obsession and materialism, and might just end up too exploitative. (Though, I cannot deny that I wished they would have at least considered shooting the Habitrail scene from the book. Just out of sick curiosity I guess...)

It's genius in its contrast and beautiful in its chaos, it is more than just another horror film made for sick thrills; it is the dark side of American cinema disguised as a main stream movie. Love it or hate it, American Psycho is a cinematic classic that deserved its fans and deserves to have more!

1 male knifed to death
1 dog stomped
1 male hacked to death with an axe
1 female head seen
1 female repeatedly bitten, killed
3 female bodies seen rotting
1 female had a chainsaw dropped on top of her
1 elderly female shot
1 male shot
3 cops immolated in car explosion
1 male shot on the head
1 male shot
Total: 16
(Note: Due to the killer's state of mind, I left out two possible killings: one that may have been implied with a stained shirt and another with a lock of hair)


  1. Unfortunately, I'm in the itty bitty teeny tiny mini-minority that... doesn't care for American Psycho.

    Treasonous heretical blasphemy, I know.

    1. ...meh, I kinda saw that coming. AP was never a film meant to satisfy everyone so it's cool...

      Liking American Psycho 2 however...