What do you get when you combine a warped mind of a Manhattan stockbroker and a suave, classy well-built exterior? You get an American psycho and the title of a brilliant yet not so easily accepted book by Bret Easton Ellis. Canadian director Mary Harron, known for her work with the cult movie "I Shot Andy Warhol', really took on a handful when she decided to put Ellis's work to the big screen. Though the film is not readily received by those with a not-so-open mind, it is indeed properly appreciate by less up tight individuals. It is difficult, and not to mention impossible, to watch this movie while only seeing the rough gruesome and at times shocking exterior. During the hour and a half of this "less than heartwarming' tale, you must look deeper into the true meaning of this 80's cult horror flick.
Though it is thought to be merely some corporate "dude' with a sick, twisted mind who gets his kicks brutally killing innocent people, it is not all that tough to realize that it has ideas that go far beyond that. Recent critically acclaimed Wales actor Christian Bale puts on a hauntingly vicious performance in the role of Patrick Bateman, a hot off of Wall Street VP who harbors more than just sadistic thoughts. However, being that 27-year-old Bateman conceals his evil intentions behind his well-dressed exterior, he is more so recognized by others for his apparent normalcy rather than his more sinful side. It is this seemingly perfect idea of man that manages to provide Bateman with not only a VP spot in a multi-million dollar company, but also win him the materialistic heart of his fianc e Evelyn (Reese Witherspoon).
Despite having these two, what seem to be, important things in life, Bateman constantly tackles his desire and hunger for more not so conventional things. His sleek physique and good looks just isn't enough to keep Bateman sane. With a flood of jealousy, inner loathing of others, and selfish notions contained in a money and stature oriented time, Bateman finds it difficult to keep his cool. As the twisted tale progresses, he finds that his "mask of sanity' begins to slip and he finds it more and more difficult to prevent his emotional psychotic urges from surfacing. I believe the turning point shows itself when Bateman invites his secretary, Jean (Chloe Sevigny), over to his pricey Manhattan apartment and, although tempted and prepared to execute his unsuspecting date, his willingness subsides and he ends up letting her go. It seemed that in the entire movie that was the one part that seemed to show that perhaps Bateman had just a pinch of human emotion amidst his unfeeling interior.
To put it simply for those more close-minded, easily stunned people, the film portrays a young man rout with frustrated feelings brought on by the idea that someone's business card is more elaborate, or another VP's apartment is more expensive, or one of his "friends's units is made by a better designer. His vanity overcomes all other possible human emotions that he has the ability to experience and he rarely expresses one single feeling that isn't backed by some opposing anomalistic urge. To put it bluntly, Christopher Lehmann-Haupt (New York Times critic) said it best: "Patrick Bateman lives in a morally flat world in which clothes have more value that skin, objects are worth more than bones, and the human soul is something to be sought with knives and hatchets and drills.' Christian Bales performance in the role of Bateman is indeed a hauntingly memorable one. It's almost frightening how accurately he portrays Bateman's composed and not-so-human characteristics to such a point that the viewer really gets a chance to catch a glimpse of his characters unstable psyche.
I think he really captures the hilarity and vanity of Bateman's persona. As for Bale's fellow supporting actors, there's not much to say. Reese Witherspoon plays the "snooty' fianc e Evelyn with a somewhat less than eye-popping performance. Jared Leto played VP Paul Allen, a role in which Leto gets a chance to be remembered for something other than that of his "Dudley Do-Wrong' role in teen drama "My So Called Life'.
And finally, we mustn't forget the trials and tribulations of the more acclaimed actor, Williams Dafoe, who did a "bang up' job as the relentless detective Donald Kimball. But, despite all these well-known actors, it was impossible for any of them to come close to stealing the screen from Christian Bale. Being that the film was released in 18 A form rather than NC-17, it is obvious to assume that the already ferociously violent slaughter scenes and occasional intimate scenes were seriously "cut' apart to present a more watchable and tolerable form of the film. But, make no mistake, that definitely doesn't mean that the special effects people didn't take special care in making every execution scene look uncomfortably realistic. However, it was just that special touch and attention to detail by director Harron that made the film all the more effective. Not to mention the array of 80″ s pop music that brought on a memorable feel to the movie.
To put in pun form, although the film didn't make a "stab' at the box-office or strike terror into the hearts of it's viewers, it's not a movie to be overlooked at the video store. Although I enjoyed the raw and at times dark humor amidst the over-clouded plot, it's definitely not a film for everyone. If you are a prudish or easily disturbed individual who doesn't feel like you can look past the non-reserved intimate scenes and the less-than-appropriate acts of violence to see the true meaning of the film, then trust me when I say, "Don't bother.' You just can't watch this movie with a narrow frame of mind.