It’s the late 1980s and Patrick Bateman is a high-powered stockbroker on Wall Street. He works mergers and acquisitions. Or is it murders and executions? Both actually, because he’s your normal Wall Street-type during the day, but at night he roams the streets perpetrating random acts of violence.
When I first saw American Psycho (Universal), I really did not know what to expect. I was surprised to find out that the film was a satire of American life in the ’80s. The film does an admirable job of fulfilling this task, making fun of the commercialism and superficiality of the time period. As we find out by watching this movie, image is the most important thing in life to Patrick Bateman, the homicidal stockbroker played by Christian Bale.
At first glance, one probably could see this as a scary slasher-type, blood and guts movie. At points it is. But Bateman’s murders are not the true scary subject of this movie. The movie is scary because of how superficial and egotistical the yuppies of the ’80s actually were.
The best scenes of this film are the humorous ones. At one point, characters compare business cards. It doesn’t sound funny, but it is set up like duel of some sort – over something as arbitrary as business cards.
Another standout funny/scary scene involves Bateman eerily cheering himself on in the mirror during an encounter with two prostitutes. Yes, some (a lot) of the humor is sick and twisted, but what do you expect with a movie about a psycho killer? For me, American Psycho works on all levels.
I love satire. But I do not love this flick. Where does American Psycho go wrong? It absolutely lacks any trace of subtlety, which is, in some ways, the point of a satire.
We’re bombarded with the in-your-face symbolism of business cards, facial products and five-star restaurants. The point, how they all represent the big business greed of the ’80s, is so belabored as to physically tire the viewer. There might as well have been a line in the script saying something like, “Us ’80s people sure are image-conscious and greedy.”
Unfortunately for the people who made the film, the ’80s ended 10 years before its release. A movie like Fight Club is far more relevant as it deals with present problems in society, something that is much harder to dissect.
This movie does have some saving graces. For one, Bale is phenomenal. He’s an incredible actor and delivers the few chuckles that the movie has to offer here and there. As a horror comedy, it succeeds on some levels.
If you want a movie with brutal violence, graphic sex and social commentary on the past rent American Psycho. If you want something that is relevant today, skip the history lesson and just go grab Fight Club.