Directed by Mary Harron
Running Time: 1:41
Rated R strong violence, sexuality, drug use and language.

I had it. I was with this movie almost all the way through. I was laughing where I should have been laughing. I was scared where I should have been scared. I was disgusted where I should have been disgusted. I was also laughing where I should have been disgusted. But then, within the last 10 minutes or so, American Psycho lost me. Somewhere between the ATM machine and the ending, something went haywire and I stopped following the action. Christian Bale stars as Patrick Buchanan, an up and coming 27 year old Wall Street tycoon. The only thing that separates Patrick from the rest of the crowd at Pierce and Pierce? Patrick has a need to kill. It doesn't matter who he kills or where he kills, he has a bloodlust inside of him that I haven't seen on the big screen in a long time. What starts off as a night time need for blood, turns into a full blown passion to kill. From the homeless man with his dog, to a rival partner, to, well just about anything that looks at him the wrong way, Patrick is the most casual, good looking, insane person you will ever see. But before you go thinking that this is some sort of horror film, it's not. It's a comedy. And one of the most disturbing and deranged comedies you'll ever see. There is one scene involving a refrigerator and something inside that had me laughing out loud. But as I said in the opening, sometime near the end, I got lost. I understood everything that was happening. Patrick killing people who got in his way, killing people just because. And it was all building up to a head, and when he exploded, you knew it was going to be good. But after he exploded, something happened. I don't want to give away anything more than I already have, but after the scene at the ATM machine, things started to happen that didn't make sense to me, and was never explained. My only theory is that the audience is supposed to fill in the blanks, but I'm not so sure that's the case. I kept getting the feeling that something was being left out. Different personalities, different apartments, different people... something was missing, and I couldn't find the key.

The director, Mary Harron, said that when she first read the book American Psycho, she wasn't sure how this could be translated into a movie. The book was panned by NOW (National Organization of Women) for promoting violence against women. I personally didn't see any promotion of violence. And even if you assume that just because violence is shown it's being promoted, it wasn't only against women. Patrick was an equal opportunity killer if I've ever seen one. Harron said the book, and the movie, was a satire about life in 1987 on Wall Street. The backstabbing (no pun intended) between partners. The way all these 20-something men with their Harvard degrees all looked and dressed the same. The way they all wanted to have the best looking business cards, always trying to be one step above the rest. Patrick's killing was just his way of staying above everyone else. He was always so matter-of-fact about everything. He always felt the need to discuss music before going on a tirade. Huey Lewis and the News. Whitney Houston. Phil Collins. He knew everything there was to know about the music and the people behind the music. It was his way of taking control, and showing his intelligence towards the people he was about to harm.

Christian Bale was tremendous in his role as Bateman. When this movie was first announced, the big hubub was about Leonardo DiCaprio taking the lead. And as I watched the movie, I realized that there was no way Leo could have carried this film. Leo is too small a presence to do what Patrick needed to do. Bale, who after the release of this movie I predict will be the next major movie star, has a certain quality about him that made you really like him, even as he was hitting someone with an axe. He has a tremendous body (and I'm ok enough with my sexuality to say that) and a good looking face, and his voice has a happiness to it that makes you enjoy listening to him. Also in the cast were Reese Witherspoon as Bateman's fiance; Samantha Mathis as the drugged up fiance of one of Bateman's partners; and Willem Dafoe as the cop investigating the disappearance of another one of Bateman's partners. The music in the movie was very cool. All 80's stuff which makes for a great soundtrack. Something about listening to Sussudio by Phil Collins while watching two guys and a girl go at it. The version I saw was the unrated version, so the released version won't be as sexually explicit. Director Harron said basically 20 seconds of "pelvic thrusting" was taken out to get the R rating.

Overall I'd say American Psycho certainly isn't for everyone. If you can't laugh at the intense violence that goes on on-screen, you're going to hate this movie. If you can take everything with a grain of salt, I think you'll enjoy the movie. But if you do go see it, please explain to me what happened at the end. Or maybe I should just go read the book.

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reviewed 03/21/00

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