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Having just finished American Psycho, I came to IMDB to get some
clarification on the ending. And it seems I'm not the only one left
adrift by the ambiguous ending.
I've browsed some of your comments, not all 400+ to be sure. But some of them. A good sampling I think, and this movie has three distinct cheering sections.
Those who consider it a masterpiece, those who consider it unredeemable, boring trash, and by far the largest segment, those who see it as a flawed masterpiece.
I fall into the latter category. And no, I did not read the book. But as others have stated any movie that requires you to read the book, to "get" the movie, is ultimately a failure as a movie.
So my review is based solely on the merits of the film. And contrary to what some have said, the film does have many merits. I found it brilliantly directed, and a superbly acted examination of excess, and boredom, and evil. An examination, satire, critique of a time, and type of thinking.
Even before seeing the ending, I thought how much bateman lives in people. Found myself thinking, an examination of bateman is an examination of men by the name of Reagan and Bush. How American Psycho is an examination of our times, and our modern theologies.
I found the movie as a whole riveting, loved the restraint shown (and disagree with those calling for more gore, I think Mary should be applauded for her deft hand, the scenes have more power for what is not shown), and was captivated by nearly every scene, by scenes others have called boring, but I found profound.
Bateman putting on his makeup, or simply trying to get a restaurant, and the near apocalyptic importance, such minutiae makes in the lives of empty men. The right card, or the right cloth, or the right table, or the right watch, how these are the signposts of an empty age and an empty soul, and how these things have more value than your fellow man... or woman.
Bateman attains everything the materialistic times tells him he should want, but once he gets it he feels nothing. Emptier than before, less than before. It's only in the extremes of his addictions he begins to feel something, anything. He feeds to fill the emptiness, but the more he feeds the emptier he gets. He eats at his fellowman (woman) but in his bloodlust he eats at himself.
He is the American dream, taken to its cannibalistic extremes.
And never before has makeup, played such a mesmerizing part in a movie. Bateman's(Chris Bale's) face at times when he is under stress, takes on a plastic look, a glossy, sweaty sheen, and for all the world it looks like he's wearing a mask... and the mask, his mask of sanity, is beginning to run.
Simply amazing use of makeup. And incredible performance by the lead actor. I wasn't familiar with him before this, but everyone will be after this.
Upon first hearing about this movie, I had no desire to see it. I've grown up since the age of Hills Have Eyes and trash like The Beyond, watching people suffer no longer seems significant. I guess as we get older we ask more of our art than springer, or the WWF, or slasher flicks. We ask of our art to tell us something true. Something of ourselves, and our world.
I think American Psycho under the deft hand of Mary Harron becomes more than my prejudices, and exceeds my expectations. Rises at times to dizzying heights not unlike art.
Mary's restraint makes this movie. But I fear her restraint nearly sinks it as well. The ending is too ambiguous. Who is Bateman in the end. Is there a Bateman? And what did he do or did not do?
In the end,the movie will nag at you. Did he or didn't he? And in the end, now that I write this I'm thinking maybe the answer doesn't really matter, maybe in the end the answer is the same. In the end a sin of thought, or a sin of action, is still a sin. In the end we are left with a man, and a nation... whose mask is slipping.
I think like the first Psycho, time will prove this one.... worthy. I now add Mary Harron to the small selection of modern directors I will tiptoe through broken glass to see. Directors like Dave Fincher(Seven, Fight Club), Carl Franklin(Devil in a Blue Dress), Johnny To(Expect the Unexpected), Ringo Lam(Full Alert, Victim), M. Night Shyamalan(Sixth Sense, Unbreakable), and Peter Weir(Fearless).
In 1991, Bret Easton Ellis' controversial novel "American Psycho" took
the world by storm women accused it of being misogynist, sexist filth
and others were understandably shaken by its brutal and graphic
depictions of unprovoked violence and torture.
Set in the 1980s, the book follows the story of a 27-year-old Harvard graduate named Patrick Bateman, who goes on a killing spree and murders "twenty, maybe forty people." It was originally slated for circulation in 1990, but Random House pulled out of distribution, fearing backlash. It was later released as part of a Vintage Series, and quickly sold over 250,000 copies, becoming one of the most popular (and, to some, important) literary works of our time.
In the movie, Welsh actor Christian Bale portrays Bateman gleefully tongue-in-cheek, whether it's confessing to manslaughter over the phone (" I just had to kill a lot of people!") or dancing to Huey Lewis and the News' "Fore" album before hitting an associate over the head with an axe.
Patrick is a troubled guy. On the surface, he appears to be normal he's a Wall Street broker with a secretary, an expensive apartment suite, his own limo and a fancy business card. But on the inside, he's a monster complete with an insatiable blood lust and lack of empathy for fellow human beings. (If he can indeed be classified as one.) As a film and a novel, "American Psycho" is an attack on the absurdities of the '80s yuppie era sometimes the satire isn't very subtle, in fact it's often made very clear, but I liked it. Because the movie is so eccentric and over-the-top, and Bale is so loony and maniacal, the satire needs to be equally strong and it is. Whether it's business men drooling over each other's fetishistic business cards or Patrick discussing the nuances of modern pop music before killing more victims, "American Psycho" hits strong and hard this is a great, overwhelming cinematic and visual experience. It cannot be condemned for being unsubtle it never was.
The performances are wonderful. Bale is superb as Bateman, totally embodying the character. As a man bewildered by his environment, and wanting only desperately to fit in, Bateman listens to Genesis and "Hip to Be Square"; finally we have proof that too much Phil Collins and Huey Lewis will turn you into the next Ed Gein.
Perhaps some fans of the novel will dislike Bale's performance (at times, it almost seems comical, such as when he murders his coworker Paul Allen, played by Jared Leto). But I thought it was the perfect mix of introspection, self-hatred, outer-loathing, lust, conformity and schizophrenia. Bale manages to capture all of this perfectly, and by the end of the film, I could not imagine anyone else in the role.
Willem Dafoe, Chloe Sevigny and Reese Witherspoon all have co-starring roles, but at the end of the day it is Bale who really drives this film home he's the reason it's worth seeing, and in part the reason it exceeds beyond the typical restraints of its genre.
Since its release, many critics have accused "American Psycho" of being a watered-down version of the book, being both "politically correct" and "lacking satire." However, I don't recall the last time I saw a man beat a dog to death with the heel of his shoe in a mainstream motion picture. Or chase after a prostitute completely naked, wielding a bloodied chainsaw. Or hold a gun to a cat's head and threaten to feed it to an ATM machine.
In fact, when "American Psycho" was previewed before the Motion Picture Association of America, they gave it an NC-17 rating not for its violence, as one might expect, but rather for its threesome scene between Patrick and two prostitutes.
Director Mary Harron cut footage from the film and finally managed to achieve an R-rating, but on a new "Uncut Killer Collector's Edition" DVD, you can see the film as it was intended to be seen and it's a real fine treat. Now excuse me, I have to go return some videotapes.
'American Psycho' is NOT a slasher movie. It is a depiction, a fantasy if
you will, of the life of modern man and his place in society.
Nothing is enough. Money, sex, social stature, there is always someone else who has more and everyone else expect from you to try harder for even more.
This movie is about eliminating competition the easy way. By killing your opponents. By eating your sexual partners. By destroying everyone around you.
'American Psycho' retains the balance between this psychotic state, a chilling thriller and a very funny movie.
The scenes that show Patrick playing music for his guests are absolutely hilarious, as he comments very seriously on records by artists such as Whitney Houston, Phil Collins and Huey Lewis & the News. The funny thing is that he chooses the most commercial or sold out records of these artists, to explain how much better they are compared to their previous, more artistic work. Another message of the state of the receivers of commercial art.
You can analyze 'American Psycho' for hours. It can be perceived both as a deep and a fun movie. Even if you don't like the story, you will love Christian Bale's excellent performance.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
... because with "American Psycho", Mary Harron and her screen writing
partner have delivered the most faithful adaptation it would be
possible to release without getting the film banned or revolting
audiences so much that no one comes to see it. It would be IMPOSSIBLE
to take some of the most extreme sequences from the book and commit
them to film. What the movie instead does is to give us an insight into
the stunningly fragile and insecure mind of Patrick Bateman, and to
speculate whether his unstable nature would REALLY lead him to
perpetrate vile acts, or whether he just fantasises about doing so.
I think it matters little in the context of this film whether Bateman's exploits are actually based in reality, because whether they are or they aren't, Bateman is still left in the grip of paranoia, brought on by the shallowness of the society that is around him. Bateman is less of a 'psycho' than a vessel for all the selfish evils of society to corrupt, and a sensible audience is more likely to be left reeling at how he has been turned into a 'robot', than by the discreet amounts of gore that do feature in the movie.
"American Psycho" is fascinating to watch because Bateman is such a complex character. We feel revulsion at his violent tendencies, amused by his complete superficiality, and pity at his crumbling sanity. In order to evoke such diverse feelings from one performance, we need a superb actor. Bale's performance is right on the money. Never does HIS mask slip as does that of Patrick Bateman. He is completely believable in all his emotions.
There is NOTHING in the film that is not true to the book (although there are bits in the book that are not true to the film) Both the reading and watching experiences are valuable and rewarding ones, but what they share with each other is that while they're exploring somebody else's mental state, they are also probing that of their audience. Can we see the funny side in the fact that these murders were committed for very trivial reasons?
Can we ridicule someone with the knowledge that he is also a fantastically dangerous person? The film and book are constantly pushing boundaries, and if you don't fight that, but instead surrender to it, they will take you to many interesting places. Don't be afraid to give in to your emotions and laugh when you see something funny, because the movie shows us what emotional repression has done to someone like Patrick.
Kudos to Mary Harron for tackling a seriously difficult project and turning it into one of the cleverest movies of recent years. "American Psycho" is anything you want it to be; glossy and superficial, or deep and meaningful. The question is: Do you look at things from the same narrow angle as Patrick Bateman does? If so, then the movie is not for you...
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
AMERICAN PSYCHO / (2000) **** (out of four)
Patrick Bateman: I think my mask of sanity is about to slip. ---"American Psycho"
The average filmmaker would turn "American Psycho" into an exploitative slasher flick, but Mary Harron and Guinevere Turner have adapted the controversial novel by Bret Easton Ellis into something unique and intriguing, a brilliant, thought-provoking social commentary thriller.
Readers criticized the decade old novel because of its graphic violence, but that doesn't cause Turner and Harron to give into the controversial material. I have never read the book, but after watching "American Psycho," I intend to. It's a scathing, rare film that probes our imagination and beliefs while experimenting with true psychological terror. It often makes startling switches between scenes of dark comedy and sequences that portray unsettling, graphic images. Director Mary Harron says in the film's press notes that she wanted all but one of the violent sequences to be disturbing. The amount of blood and violence here is certainly extreme, but considering the nature of the beast, not overly abundant. The film calculates every single act of violence, therefore, the victims are seldom random characters, but people we care about, which is why the scenes are so timely and effective.
The best description of the film's main character, Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) comes from Christopher Lehmann-Houpt of The New York Times. "Patrick Bateman lives in a morally flat world in which clothes have more value than skin, objects are worth more than bones, and the human soul is something to be sought with knives and hatchets and drills."
Both leading actors in "American Psycho" have previously portrayed Jesus Christ, Willem Dafoe in "The Last Temptation of Christ," and Christian Bale in "Mary, Mother of Jesus." Talk about versatility. It's probably not a coincidence that Christian Bale was the initial actor of preference for Mary Harron. If an actor can display such a fascinating performance as Jesus Christ, he's more than capable of playing a psychotic serial killer because he already knows the other side of the moral spectrum.
Through the strong central character, "American Psycho" suggests several themes about the 1980's, including society's obsession with outer perfection, conformity, the rising threshold of material fetishism, and the strong desire of stimulation by drugs, sex, money, and power. Patrick Bateman isn't given a back story, however, and the movie doesn't offer his personal history. Bateman has no inside emotions. He reacts by inner impulse alone. He seeks gratification through the sex and drugs, but also by engaging in the homicidal behavior.
"You could describe American Psycho' as a film about perfect surfaces and what might be lurking beneath," says Mary Harron. "Inside, Bateman might want it all to stop, but for him it's a compulsion. He's like the serial killer in M, who says: You have a choice, but I can't help what I am.'"
"American Psycho" initially earned an NC-17 rating, not because of the violence but because of the graphic sexual content. The director's cut is available on videocassette and DVD, which shows the film's three-way sex scene in more disturbing, yet innovative, detail. That's a good thing, if you're not a sensitive viewer, because this film is all about details. The production design, the cinematography, the visual effects, the engaging soundtrack, the quirks each actor masterfully incorporates with their character, and every other aspect of the film is flush in detail.
This is a movie that requires more than one viewing, to experience the surreal visual arena, and to justify what we think actually happened. Perplexingly, the film's conclusion puts the events into question. Did Bateman really kill these people, or did he just really want to? The answers don't come easy, but this is a movie that begs us to look closer
Without a doubt the most underrated movie of the past decade, "American
Psycho" is a piece of American cinema that shouldn't be missed by anyone,
regardless if they do not like the violence (which does have its reasons).
Christian Bale gives a flawless performance as the troubled, deep down wannabe Yuppie who has psychotic, violent impulses. This is true acting here, folks. Not phoned in Tom Crooze acting. Some people object to Patrick Bateman narrating the movie [always a weak sign in a movie] and not letting us figure his motives out on our own, but if you watch closely, Bale shows us Bateman's vulnerablity through every minute of every day of his life. The movie is at times hysterical, as his character uses dominant Alpha Monkey behavior around the opposite sex. But again, it's all for good reason.
If not for Bale's performance, see it for the knife twisting satire of the '80's -- from the clothes, to the hairdos, to the music [I'll never be able to hear Phil Collins in the same way again!] The production value is rich in '80's nostalgia from the "Black and White" set designs to the enormous cellphones [how could we forget those?].
This is a movie that major studios are too afraid to touch. This is film making. Remember film making? When films took you on a ride in someone's life and you would walk away with a piece of their mind? American Psycho doesn't have any real morals or answers, but it shows the deep psychological insecurities some men suffer everyday. Oh yeah, and it was directed by a woman, so all you feminists shut up!
Having read the novel by Easton-Ellis a year ago I was intrigued to find
how it could be made into a movie.
Whilst turned off by the totally uneccesary details of Batemans crimes in the book, I felt that Easton's insight into superficial 80's yuppie culture made it a classic.
Who could play a credible Bateman? Leonardo Di Caprio? I think not.
How would Mary Harron deal with those controversial torture scenes?
What we got was one of the finest movies I have seen for some time. Of course, those of closed minds will slate this film without even bothering to see it, simply because of the book's notoriety.
I was impressed to see how closely Harron followed the book, replacing the un-filmable seens with suggestion, aka ear-cutting scene from resevior dogs, so that you believe you have seen more than you have. There are more parallels with Tarantino, such as the use of classic (& non classic ) 80's pop to create a stylised feel to the movie, that has not been seen since Pulp Fiction.
Casting was superb, with Cristian Bale giving the performance of a lifetime, We, the audience, saw the souless monster within, Batemans superficial aquaintences, saw another faceless human being.
Just like the book, you are never sure wether Batemans crimes are real, or just imaginary, but his slide into insanity is clearly real and paced expertly by Bale.
Rheese Witherspoon as Evelyn was disappointing, "Election" showed what a great actress she is and although this role called for an airhead performance, it was clear that she was cruising.
Mary Harron deserves the credit for creating an excellent film, that could have so easily been just another slasher movie.
Now it all makes sense. Christian Bale was born to play horror characters. I couldn't understand why I was so , so, afraid of him even in films like "Velvet Goldmine" He is a poster boy for putrid souls in elegant wrapping. In "American Psycho" - a film that deserves much more attention than it's got - he is absolutely terrific. Totally believable. I could sense his delight in playing a monster of this kind. Interestingly enough this manicured monster seems to be asking for sympathy, imagine the nerve! But Christian Bale succeeds in showing us a face we (I) hadn't quite seen before and yet we (I) accept without question. He should have gotten an Oscar nomination but, fortunately, he didn't.
A very funny horror flick. A worthy companion piece to its literary roots. A phenomenal, fearless performance by Christian Bale that, in a way, cleared up my questions about this versatile British actor. I could never quite warm up to him. Not even in "Little Women". Now, Bale as Patrick Bateman, revealed the reason. It is the cruelty around his mouth. His smiles are chilling and they work to perfection in this, his yuppie modern monster.His actions have the pristine shallowness of his business cards and the disgusting taste of his self awareness. You don't feel sorry for him, the way one did for Norman Bates. No, his character is unredeemable. His rough sex with two women while he rides one of them looking at himself in the mirror is one of the most disturbing film moments I've ever seen. I wonder if Bale will ever be able to play goodness, convincingly.
By the end, I didn't know what to make of it, but now I understand the film
much better. This film is must viewing, it brings out the truth about
today's world - Nothing but material values matter, we live empty lives, we
think empty thoughts, we are empty people, life is boring.
Christian Bale is awesome, quality acting! Willem Dafoe was underused, I didn't think the support cast had the same quality material as Bale.
The photography is stylish, very 80s gloss!
The direction is terrific, wonderful camera work.
Overall, see it, it's satire, black comedy, social commentary and more!
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