American Psycho released in 2000 and is supported with a star-studded cast by the likes of Willam DaFoe, Jared Leto, and a relatively unknown-at-the-time Christian Bale. What starts off as casual dinner conversation in a nondescript restaurant takes us on a blood soaked romp around New York City’s most upscale restaurants, swanky apartments, and hip hangs leaving us to question the reality of the film we just watched.
The year is 1987 and we follow Patrick Bateman, played by Christian Bale, a 27 year old executive in New York City working in a mid-Manhattan office. While Bateman’s work isn’t terribly important, his sharp looks and tan certainly are. To him that is. We are invited to listen in on Bateman’s thoughts as the narrator, while he tries his best to fit in despite his descent into madness. Normal scenes are interlaced with Patrick breaking from his facade, sharing a violent and unsettling inner dialogue those around him don’t seem engaged enough to notice.
American Psycho is based on a novel of the same name which was released in 1991, and written by Bret Easton Ellis This book faced backlash upon its release based on the extremely graphic descriptions of violent subject matter as well as glorification of the main character, Patrick Bateman. A violent fantasy story told through a killer’s eyes combined with him being a maniac just zipped up enough to hide is controversial to say the least.
The soundtrack to this movie is absolutely stellar. Not only is the song selection an exceptional mix of 80’s hits, but the music interacts with several of the scenes throughout the film and are even critiqued by Bateman himself. The sound design in American Psycho is spot-on: for example, there’s a scene early in American Psycho where music fades out when headphones are taken off, going back up to full volume when the headphones are back on ears again. Adding to this, there are several scenes where sound is centralized in one location throughout filming. This helps deepen immersion within the movie and creates an effect where it feels like you are directly experiencing the violence on-screen. You might have heard the opening score of this movie without realizing it, John Cale was tasked with composing the original orchestra soundtrack for American Psycho. He did a marvelous job capturing the intricate nature of Patrick Bateman, but also helped deeply flesh out and add-to scenes with his mixture of violins and long, dramatic drawn out notes.
Christian Bale really went above and beyond as a young actor for his role as Patrick Bateman. From copying Bateman’s gym routine getting in ridiculous shape, completely realigning his British teeth to a perfect smile, as well as hiring an accent coach to perfect his American accent, Bale was completely devoted to his character. In addition to physical changes, Bale went through a rigorous process mentally to properly envelop the psychopathic character of Patrick Bateman. For example Bale was able to make himself sweat on command, a skill that is shown in the business card meeting scene. While it was considered risky at the time, this role as Patrick Bateman helped catapult Bale to superstardom. American Psycho is now considered a cult classic and loved by most film fanatics.
Final score: 9 / 10 Stabs.
Now if you don’t mind, I’ve got to go return some videotapes.