Movie Review #629
This review regards the uncut version.
Studio: Edward R. Pressman Film Corporation
Distributor: Lions Gate Films
Spoken Languages: English – Spanish – Cantonese
Directed by Mary Harron. Produced by Christian Solomon, Chris Hanley, and Edward R. Pressman. Screenplay by Mary Harron & Guinevere Turner. Based on “American Psycho” by Bret Easton Ellis. Rated NC-17 by the MPAA and released to DVD unrated.
Theatrical version rated R by the MPAA, for strong violence, sexuality, drug use and language. Runs 1 hour, 42 minutes; theatrical cut runs 1 hour, 41 minutes. Premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on January 21, 2000. Wide release in the USA on April 14, 2000.
Starring Christian Bale, Willem Dafoe, Jared Leto, Josh Lucas, Samantha Mathis, Bill Sage, Chloë Sevigny, Cara Seymour, Justin Theroux, and Reese Witherspoon.
First thing’s first. Christian Bale really isn’t that great here. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to the real point. You really have to hate his character. His name is Patrick Bateman. And yes, I prefer Christian Bale as Batman than Christian Bale as Bateman, but once again, this isn’t about Christian Bale.
This is about Patrick Bateman. His story, which was interpreted in “American Psycho”, which I am reviewing. It’s impossible not to hate him. I may have already said that, but remember that. It affects the experience all too much. And just why do we hate him? Well, we envy him, first of all, because he’s a yuppie with a nice apartment in a big city, a steady job, and a fiancée. He’s living the dream, and he just wants more. He wants everybody around him to be perfect. And if they piss him off at all, they’re dead as a doornail. He’ll sit them down on a couch, and he’ll try and distract them. That way, they don’t notice they’re about to be axed, chainsawed, nail gunned, and what have you.
“American Psycho” fits its title in ways Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” just didn’t. It’s a brutal viewing; a sick, perverted, twisted, [CENSORED]-up movie. But come on, he just wants to “fit in”! He says it himself. To be clear, he means he wants to “fit in” with the likes of God, and to get there, he’ll perform every possible satanic act. The uncut version is merely 18 seconds longer than the theatrical cut. Don’t be surprised that it’s not violence; that’s only his favorite sport. His second-favorite, sex. The movie is tedious partly due to the fact that there’s so many needless sex scenes. I don’t know who in their right mind considers calling one’s boss while watching VHS porn to be “multitasking,” but apparently, Mr. Bateman does. Let’s not forget that gruesome scene during the second act. He hires two prostitutes, mutilates one in bed, and chases the other around his apartment with a chainsaw.
If that doesn’t have your thumb over “STOP”, let’s just consider that each scene is more ridiculous than the last. Though maybe you shouldn’t press that button right away. At least skip ahead to the ATM scene, where we learn Bateman is likely a schizophrenic: He reads “FEED ME A STRAY CAT” on the deposit screen, and so he does. In a drama, this is unintentionally funny, but for whatever reason, “American Psycho” wishes to be a black comedy. The scene is worth much eye-narrowing and face-palming.
“American Psycho”, at its Sundance premiere, was hailed as the new “Fight Club”. Actually it’s “Fight Club” in reverse. This is a man who would never give up his fascist material, rich-bastard lifestyle, and I say that honestly, because it leads him to killing people one by one, and he only begins to indulge even more. If only we had Chuck Palahniuk to make this satire more interesting! I’ll give the movie a point here and there for its admitted humor. It works in the exposition, mainly, but once Patrick Bateman has been established, we realize that placing him as the lead character is like that one day when the scum of the earth got his chance to be God.
It’s the story of a man who kills without consequence or reason, and on top of all of that, we see the killings as if by routine. I guess we can forget that “American Psycho” isn’t entertaining, because on top of that, its pointlessness makes it cringeworthy.