The Bret Easton Ellis novel American Psycho, a dark, violent satire of the "me" culture of Ronald Reagan's 1980s, is certainly one of the most controversial books of the '90s, and that notoriety fueled its bestseller statu... more »s. This smart, savvy adaptation by Mary Harron (I Shot Andy Warhol) may be able to ride the crest of the notoriety; prior to the film's release, Harron fought a ratings battle (ironically, for depictions of sex rather than violence), but at the time the director stated, "We're rescuing [the book] from its own bad reputation." Harron and co-screenwriter Guinevere Turner (Go Fish) overcome many of the objections of Ellis's novel by keeping the most extreme violence offscreen (sometimes just barely), suggesting the reign of terror of yuppie killer Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) with splashes of blood and personal souvenirs. Bale is razor sharp as the blank corporate drone, a preening tiger in designer suits whose speaking voice is part salesman, part self-help guru, and completely artificial. Carrying himself with the poised confidence of a male model, he spends his days in a numbing world of status-symbol one-upmanship and soul-sapping small talk, but breaks out at night with smirking explosions of homicide, accomplished with the fastidious care of a hopeless obsessive. The film's approach to this mayhem is simultaneously shocking and discreet; even Bateman's outrageous naked charge with a chainsaw is most notable for the impossibly polished and gleaming instrument of death. Harron's film is a hilarious, cheerfully insidious hall of mirrors all pointed inward, slowly cracking as the portrait becomes increasingly grotesque and insane. --Sean Axmaker« less
Austin Y. (ayoung22) from LOVELAND, OH Reviewed on 8/14/2009...
One of the best movies I have ever seen. Maybe my favorite ever. Sick, funny, twisted, scary, sarcastic, it is everything. Bale is the greatest, unheralded actors of our generation.
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Sharp satire of yuppies
Roland E. Zwick | Valencia, Ca USA | 10/28/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"No doubt about it, Mary Harrion's "American Psycho" is definitely not for every taste and audience demographic. The good news is, perhaps, that the film is nowhere near as gruesome and gory as both its subject matter and its controversial nature would lead one to believe. In fact, its tone of ironic comic detachment helps to de-emphasize the more sordid aspects of the material and to instead highlight the film's bitingly satiric message. Set in the mid-1980's, "American Psycho" casts a scathing eye on the then-brand new, up-and-coming group of 20-something executives known as "yuppies." Patrick Bateman, the psycho of the title, is a man who literally seems to have everything - stunning good looks, a fantastic physique, a beautiful fiancé, a diploma from Harvard and a successful career as a Wall Street executive. Yet, alone of the young men with whom he consorts, Patrick flatly admits to us in voice-over narration that he is literally an empty-suit - that his perfectly maintained outer appearance, seemingly well-ordered social routine and empty, superficial personal relationships merely mask the moral emptiness that lurks at the core of his soul. Much of the complexity of Patrick's character comes from the fact that he seems, paradoxically, to be both obsessed with the idea of conforming to the values of the world he lives in, and, at the same time, being strangely conscious of their unreality and meaninglessness. Thus, we see him becoming almost emotionally unglued because he fears he will not be able to reserve the proper table at a posh upscale restaurant or because he feels that one of his corporate buddies has a more impressive looking business card than he does. Much of Patrick's madness has its roots in the kind of obsessive-compulsive paranoia that arises from the modern insistence that life should and, indeed, can be converted into a perfect, problem-free existence if one just has enough money and a sufficient amount of the right "stuff" to make it that way. Frankly admitting that he feels no emotional attachment to any other human beings, Patrick is thereby free to channel his madness into its ultimate anti-social, taboo-shattering shape and form: serial killing. Thus, as days turn to nights, Patrick begins to rack up his victims and potential victims - a homeless man, assorted prostitutes, an ex-girlfriend, an unctuous business associate, even some policemen who get wise to his activities later in the film. Luckily for the squeamish among us, far more of the film's running time is devoted to a comic rather than thriller mode. The brittle, dryly humorous Mary Harrion/Guinevere Turner screenplay mines the corporate world milieu and the twisted rantings of a values-free mind for all their black comedy potential. Christian Bale brings a remarkable subtlety to a touchy role, managing to seem coolly alluring, chillingly detached, touchingly pathetic and wryly amusing all at the same time. Special credit should go to the stark, almost antiseptic look the filmmakers achieve through the art direction and set design, a look that matches in visual terms the moral and emotional emptiness of the characters and their world. Much was made of the anti-woman tone of the novel at the time of its initial release. Perhaps because the writers and the director are themselves women, the movie seems to have toned down that aspect quite a bit. Indeed, as in a movie like "In the Company of Men," we find ourselves not so much appalled as sadly bemused by the vehemently anti-women comments uttered by Patrick and his cronies because we see what shallow losers these men really are. Harrion and Turner obviously know whereof they speak.To reiterate, "American Psycho" may not be everyone's cup of cinematic tea, but those looking for a sharp little satire of modern American life will find some definite rewards."
"I think my mask of sanity is about to slip."
Dave | Tennessee United States | 11/09/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Based on Bret Easton Ellis' controversial novel American Psycho, this film tells the story of an 80's yuppie named Patrick Bateman (played by Christian Bale) who works on Wall Street by day and kills people by night. Like the often misunderstood novel, the film is more of a dark social comedy than a real horror story. Bateman dresses and talks like all the other wealthy, young Wall Street crowd, and thus mistaken identity plays a big part in his getting away with gruesome murders again and again. Bateman's own grip on reality begins to blur over time and at various times throughout the movie it's quite obvious that Patrick's view of reality is a sick, homicidal dream of endless torture and killing. Even when Bateman confesses at one point, no one listens or seems to care. Everyone has their own agenda and the main concern of Bateman's friends is which extravagant restaurant to dine at next, or getting the latest and greatest business card to impress one another.
Casting Christian Bale was a brilliant choice by director Mary Harron, who almost got fired from the project because of not choosing Leonardo DiCaprio for the starring role. I honestly don't think anyone could've captured Patrick Bateman's personality more flawlessly than Bale, who gave an extraordinary, chilling performance. And casting Reese Witherspoon as the prissy, bubble-brained Evelyn, who's engaged to Bateman but knows nothing of his psychotic, homicidal behavior, was a perfect choice. Much of the dialogue in the film is taken directly from Ellis' book, and the horrific violence of the book was toned down considerably, with much of it taking place off camera. Many viewers don't seem to appreciate the frequent humor in American Psycho, such as the various times Bateman says crazy things like, "I'm into murders and executions" that no one seems to hear. And his philosophical ramblings about the music of Huey Lewis & the News, Phil Collins, and Whitney Huston are hysterical!
The new "Killer Collector's Edition" is a mixed bag as far as worthwhile special features go. The documentary "From Book to Screen" is in depth but instead of having new interviews with the stars there are mostly boring interviews with film critics. Plus, it seemed like there was way too much coverage of the novel and very little on the actual shooting of the film. There's a lame video essay read by some singer and a documentary on the `80s. Thankfully, there are several deleted scenes (with optional director's commentary) as well as several humorous trailers. My favorite special feature (and probably the main reason why you should by this edition) is the director's commentary which tells lots of entertaining behind the scenes info. And, the picture and sound quality are better than ever! American Psycho IS NOT a film for everyone, but for those who enjoy intelligent satires with a little horror mixed in, this modern classic is a definite must for your DVD collection! And before you judge or even watch this movie, you should read Ellis' novel to appreciate the whole, uncensored story.
"I like to dissect girls. Did you know I'm utterly insane?" -P. Bateman"
Devil in a Pinstripe Suit.
The Groove | Boston, MA | 09/29/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Whether we know it or not, many of us have co-workers who are just like Patrick Bateman. On the outside they exude confidence, style, and success, and they know exactly what to say and when to say it. But on the inside lurks a fragmented soul ready to snap at any given moment. Welsh actor Christian Bale, in one of the best performances you will ever see, brings to life Patrick Bateman, the Wall Street yuppie who works at Pierce & Pierce by day and is a serial killer by night. In adapting the controversial and unpleasant book by Bret Easton Ellis, director Mary Harron purges much of the violence and misogyny that made the novel one of the most despised and misunderstood pieces of literature in the last 20 years. What remains is the book's twisted sense of humor. This isn't a slasher film but rather a clever satire on the yuppie lifestyle of the late 1980s. Speaking in a pitch-perfect American accent that recalls a game-show host, Bale perfectly embodies his character physically and emotionally. His performance makes you simultaneously laugh at, pity, and fear Bateman. Jared Leto is also good in his brief role as Paul Allen (in the book it's Paul Owen; why his name is changed in the film, I don't know); Chloë Sevigny also stands out as Patrick's timid assistant, and Reese Witherspoon shines as his clueless and self-absorbed fiancee. This is the unedited version, which has a few additional flashes of nudity in one of the sex scenes. The difference is so minimal, you'd hardly notice it, showing how uptight the MPAA can get when it comes to editing films. Nonetheless, "American Psycho" is a disturbing but clever film that was one of the best of 2000. It comes highly recommended."
Don't buy it!!!!!!!!!!!!
Phil D. White | 08/08/2009
(1 out of 5 stars)
"All the comments on the blu-ray transfer are correct. I rented this movie 2 years ago and was blown away by the pristine pq. Lionsgate really messed up bad with this which doesn't surprise me. This is not the first blu-ray transfer from lionsgate they destroyed. These people truly are clueless on pq. My advise to all that love this film is to try and find a used copy that was released by Universal Studios."
Existential satire disguised as a horror film
C. B Collins Jr. | Atlanta, GA United States | 01/09/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"After watching this film twice, I am of the opinion that it really is a satire rather than a horror film. I say this because the majority of the film is really about Patrick Bateman's pitiful attempt to define himself through his obsession with his model-like appearance, his outlandish purchases (such as two Robert Longo drawings in his living room), music selections, and his choices in nightclubs and restaurants. The man is adrift with no real meaning in his life, and thus this is why he is "psycho".
He demeans women, seeing them as little more than sex objects or status symbols. He is engaged to a woman (played by Reese Witherspoon) who sees men in the same way he sees women, which is convenient for a while but eventually results in a rupture of the relationship.
He is hyper competitive and overly sensitive to the trappings of success. He becomes especially competitive with a colleague Paul Allen (played by Jared Leto) who has gained recognition that Patrick lacks and seeks.
Early in the film Patrick lapses into psychotic halucinatory behavior, thinking that he is killing the women he picks up and the collegues who out shine him at work. We are given considerable hints throughout the film that his murders are figments of his imagination. I realize that some viewers will not interpret the film in this manner at all, but I suggest they carefully watch the film and seek the clues that Patrick is hallucinating and thus imaging that his desire to kill is in fact overt behaviors rather than impulsive thoughts.
So why is he an American Psycho? Because he is a terrible empty shell of a person, driven to self definition by the American marketplace. The poor fellow had no original opinions. He actually memorizes CD covers as substitutes for developing an original opinion of the pop music that is integrated throughout the film.
And yet, in some ways this really is a horror film, for what could be more horrible that a meaningless existance? The author of the book, Bret Easton Ellis, would let us know that many people experience this horror every day.
The film is actually very good and unfortunately misunderstood and underestimated by most viewers."