American Psycho is a satirical thriller that unfolds the glittering facades of the 1980s yuppie culture while also providing subtext on feminism, narcissism, and society as it is. The film follows Patrick Bateman, VP of mergers and acquisitions at Pearson & Pearson. Despite the serious job title, it comprises a whole lot of nothing. Instead, Bateman spends the majority of his time trying to be 'perfect'. In one of the most iconic scenes in the history of cinema, Bateman goes over his daily morning routine. It involves exercising, stretching, and vigorously rubbing gels all over himself. The scene reeks of narcissism and self-absorbance. It is a small peek into the world of a man who is confined and entrapped in appearances rather than meanings. Bateman however has a double life. He secretly struts around as a serial killer, murdering the homeless.
In a fit of rage upon discovering that his coworker Paul Allen manages to have a better business card and reservation at Dorsia (a very exclusive restaurant in New York). Patrick Bateman decides to take matters into his own hands, and what proceeds further is what American Psycho is all about.
This film doesn't pretend to be subtle with its message, it is very loud and upfront about it. It wants to demonstrate how materialistic and plastic the yuppie culture in 1980s New York was and it does so through Bateman's participation in a meaningless excess of parties and social gatherings, devoid of any real human emotion while rampaging through the city. Throughout the film, there are various clues provided to the viewer suggesting that just like Patrick, his co-workers, "friends'' and social groups are also living a mindless, emotionless drain of life. They all dress like him, and have similar haircuts and glasses to the point where they are almost indistinguishable and easily mistaken for each other. They all discuss global issues but only to seem important and well-informed rather than actually being well-informed and they all have the same desire: To get a reservation at the most expensive and exclusive restaurants.
As mentioned earlier, the film tends to be very graphic in its portrayal of violence. Especially violence against the more vulnerable groups in society, with an emphasis on women. It is grotesque but through the portrayal of these sequences, it drives home the lack of any awareness or reason in Patrick Bateman's rampage. He suffers from a false sense of self.
The film, shot very well by Mary Harron, stars Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman with Jared Leto as Paul Allen. Christian Bale gives one of the best performances of his career. From the forehead sweat to the cold dead stare, Bale packs it all and sells it equally convincingly. The violent tendencies and the intrusive thoughts being voiced out often by the character showcases what Bale is capable of doing as an actor. The supporting cast does the necessary rather equally well. One special mention would be William Dafoe as the detective.
In an age of materialistic gluttony and social media, American Psycho's commentary on appearances and superficiality is even more relevant and rings truer than ever before. It is truly a film that regardless of its graphic portrayal of violence, must be watched. The film despite being very upfront about its motives still leaves something for the audience to decide upon. The ending is shrouded in ambiguity and according to the director, the meaning should be understood by the audience on their own. Hence, I'd suggest you take some time out to watch this masterpiece and derive your meaning.
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