Christian Bale is. Did you know that? He’s very good at American accents.
American Psycho is one of those movies that I regret not seeing sooner. Along with providing a depressingly true moral lesson, Christian Bale’s performance as the brutally insane yuppie Patrick Bateman is both hilarious and disturbing. Based off a book by the same name, American Psycho is a story of the successful white businessman archetype of the 80s, only with a growing undertone of uncontrollable sadistic bloodlust throughout. To paint the proper image, envision Christian Bale being told to feed a stray cat to an ATM machine by the ATM machine, and then attempting to shoot the cat in the head after he discovers it won’t fit through the card feed. With me so far?
Patrick Bateman is detestable by any standards but the standards of the bigoted, self-obsessed, coke-sniffing yuppie. He has a strict (and excessive) morning routine, he’s neurotic about things like having his apartment dirtied, his clothes touched, and his business card being subjectively inferior to those of his peers. The first major murder of one of his business partners brings an investigation down on him and his work, which in turn stresses him out and makes him want to kill even more people, known as “returning some video tapes.” And yet, despite the fact that people are disappearing left and right, he gets off scott-free. Even the private investigator can’t seem to figure out that there’s something off about Patrick.
All throughout the film, he is acutely aware of his homicidal tendencies, but seems to be completely at their mercy. The narration Patrick provides reveals that the only thing causing him to hesitate before slaughtering people in cold blood is a distant sense of abstract morality. Which is to say, “I’m pretty sure this is bad but holy crap I want to.” Only once in the movie does Patrick let someone live after luring them to his home, and that only happens because a convenient interruption pops up to halt his nailgun fun.
American Psycho is probably darker than I’m making it out to be, but there are several humorous elements applied tastefully. Most of the humor is admittedly black comedy or satire, so… Okay, well, I suppose you need to be a little morbid to giggle at Christian Bale screaming and chopping apart businessmen with an axe after explaining why he likes Huey Louis and The News. It’s got a charm, but the prime of that charm come from Christian Bale’s contribution to Patrick Bateman’s character.
Peter Travers of Rolling Stone Reviews sheds some light on the book from which the film originated. It, um… It certainly seems like a piece of literature best taken with a grain of salt. Or perhaps an entire shaker. Or, better yet, throw it into the ocean and let it drown in salt. Something about a starving rat and a vagina. I’m sure I don’t need to add anything else to that for you to understand how grody the book is. Still, the movie softens the blow enough that it’s tolerable. Definitely not a family film, but… Heyyy, read some more here: http://www.rollingstone.com/movies/reviews/american-psycho-20000414