102 Min | Crime – Drama | April 2000
IMDB Rating: 7.6
Director: Mary Harron
Starring: Christian Bale, Justin Theroux, Josh Lucas
American Psycho Review: Highly satirical in tone, “American Psycho” punches Wall Street in the gut, and does so better than any other film about that odious institution. The story, set in 1987, ostensibly focuses on a 27 year-old exec named Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale), who works in a Manhattan high-rise, for a company in the corporate “mergers and acquisitions” industry. He hobnobs with the chic and trendy. And his personality fits right in with that crowd, amoral, shallow, deceitful, condescending, selfish, sneering, and slick. But in his off-hours he commits blatant acts of violence. Patrick Bateman is a psychotic Gordon Gekko.
Yet, the script implies no back-story for Bateman or motivation for his antisocial behavior. Thinly veiled behind the obvious plot line is the film’s subversive message. As such, “American Psycho” surpasses “Wall Street” (1987) in thematic potency. The dialogue even says as much. In voice-over, Bateman tells us: “There is an idea of a Patrick Bateman, some kind of abstraction. But there is no real me.” And Patrick’s “confession” at the end is the confession of modern Wall Street. The film’s non-script technical quality is quite good. Cinematography, editing, costumes, prod design, art design, sound effects, and acting are all high quality.
The semi-classical music in the opening credits provides clever irony. The humorous, tongue-in-cheek tone prevents the film from being perceived as a too heavy-handed cinematic lecture. Instead, the film infers “black comedy”, adroitly mixing the usually discordant genres of horror with social commentary. In the Patrick Bateman character, “American Psycho” accurately describes the Wall Street mentality of the 1980s. That mentality has become blatantly more intense since then. As such, the film continues to be relevant and probably will remain so for a long time to come.