American Psycho

April 18, 2010
Predating shows like Dexter by many years, American Psycho is a look into the twisted worldview of the deranged and the twisted, who seemingly appear to be normal individuals on the outside. Based on the novel of the same name, we follow a character so vulgar, yet interesting, that viewers will most likely be just as engrossed as they are disgusted by the actions of this 'American psycho' - a standard 80's yuppie with a penchant for murder, sex, and power.

Patrick Bateman, on the outside, is just your average businessman. He's got a finance, wealth, a well-paying job, a fancy apartment, and more. On the inside, however, Patrick Bateman is a far different man. Claiming to have no feeling or sense of belonging anywhere, Bateman is secretly a man who relishes in killing and other dark taboos. From orgies to violent murders, we follow Bateman's life as his sanity continues to slip further and further away...

If one can stomach the grotesqueness of what's occurring onscreen, then that viewer should find the film to be an interesting, albeit morbid, character study on Patrick Bateman. The character seems to suffer from a lot of disorders, actually, such as narcissism, perceived isolationism, compulsiveness, etc. His disorders aren't completely to blame, however, as the uncaring world of the rich in the 1980's seems to ignore or ridicule those that are different or have emotional issues. In fact, many times throughout the film, people will call others by different names - simply because they don't care enough to remember other people's names, so names and faces often become quite mixed for the rich and famous. Anyway, to wrap things up, the characters are all pretty interesting and Christian Bale, who plays the disturbed Bateman, gives what's probably the best performance in his entire career.

Visually-speaking, this film looks fantastic. It's got a noir feeling to it, what with the heavy use of darkness and shadow for the film's backgrounds. Everything just looks so crisp and fresh in this film, and is shot in a way that perfectly conveys the film's atmosphere. The image of Patrick Bateman alone is quite dark and perplexing - a dark-clad businessman in shades who often kills in the most gruesome way possible. One particular scene that showcases this brutality would be when Bateman kills Paul Allen - a business rival - in his own apartment. A discussion of music turns into a bloodbath so quickly and coldly, that it pretty much sets the tone for the entire film. Mixing horror and noir, the film's visuals speak for themselves.

The film's pacing is pretty good too, though it dabbles in the occasional dip of padding. It can feel just as smooth as it can feel frantic, which, for some reason, really works in a film that centers around a serial killer.

The film's satire on the cold world of the '80's, however, can feel very hollow. We're expected to loathe these uncaring men and women, which is understandable, but oftentimes it feels as if we're meant to connect with and have sympathy for this serial killer. It just feels too forced and too empty, though the characters somewhat make up for this. Also, while some of the 80's tracks really fit the scenes, it sometimes felt like the film was trying to force the film's background down my throat. "Get it? This song is popular because the film takes place in the '80's!" "It's the 1980's!" "Man, people must have been real jerks during the 1980's..." I get it - the film takes place in the 1980's. There's no need to bombard me with this fact.

It's flawed, and slightly disgusting, but viewers should find the film an interesting character study. With some cool characters, great visuals, and a fair pacing, American Psycho is a really good movie that seems to be pretty underrated, for some reason beyond me.

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