American Psycho
directed by Mary Harron
(Lions Gate, 2000)

The release of American Psycho in 2000 was accompanied by many an outraged editorial about the gore-fest nature and loathsome treatment of women in the script. It created a sensation, and although most editorialists got it completely wrong, I do applaud them for creating a buzz around this outstanding film.

Director Mary Harron transports the viewer to Manhattan in the 1980s, impeccably recreating the outfits, interior decor, snotty theme restaurants and modern art of the time. The main characters consist of Patrick Bateman and his fellow Wall Street merger and acquisition vice presidents, all of whom sit in their offices looking important and dreaming up ways to one-up the other with new business card fonts or current event tidbits. They date socialites who are either zonked out on drugs or working hard climbing the right social ladders.

Patrick is, of course, an American Psycho. He's a fastidious, narcissistic serial killer. He doesn't limit himself to just women, but the most fantastic scenes in the movie occur when he kills beautiful model-types. The movie has a very simple and very powerful message: Patrick is deranged, but so is everyone around him. Everyone is as soulless as Patrick, and when he tries to confess his crimes, the vacuous nature of his world renders his confession unbelievable to all his friends and associates. There is a realtor, in fact, who proves herself to be far more deranged than Patrick, and she commits no outright crime.

This movie is a brilliant satire of a period piece. The gore is mainly off-screen and subtle, and the murders are almost campy. (Patrick running around condo hallways naked save for sneakers and a bloody chainsaw, anyone?)

review by
Jessica Lux-Baumann

8 September 2007

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