Yesterday, I gave into a prurient, guilty-pleasure, yeah I know it's bad but I want to see it anyway impulse and picked up a copy of the "Killer Collector's Edition" of the "Uncut Version" of "American Psycho." We watched it last night. It's actually a tad less violent than I thought it would be, and much funnier.
The film is a very dark comedy about high-flying Ivy League young urban professionals in the early 1980s. Christian Bale plays Patrick Bateman, a Wall Street high-flyer who enjoys killing people in nasty ways. Bret Easton Ellis's novel "American Psycho" was trashed by American feminists, but the movie has a very feminist take on the supposed vacuousness of a certain class of American men.
Bateman follows an extensive hair and skin care procedure before work everyday, and he is fanatical about exercise and diet. The men judge their importance by the quality of their business cards and their ability to obtain reservations at popular restaurants. Bateman doesn't seem to know much of anything, and he frequently recites memorized criticisms of popular albums as he plays the CDs (Huey Lewis, Phil Collins, and Whitney Houston figure in this). In one scene, the men look at each other's new business cards, and the scene has an unmistakeable undertone of Freudian penis envy. Bateman can't stand it that one of his colleagues has a far nicer card than he has, so he gets that colleague drunk and decapitates him with an axe. Other people are whacked for no reason at all, particularly when Bateman goes into a killing frenzy. Throughout the film, Bateman tells other people that he is very much into killing, but nobody catches on that he actually means it.
I thought the attempt to tie the cut-throat competition in the business world to Bateman's actual throat-cutting was interesting--somewhat like the paralells between the Mafia, big business, and Government alluded to in "The Godfather"--but the attempt to tie those things to Ronald Reagan's politics was inserted heavy-handedly and was simply too much of a stretch to be credible. If you can stomach this film, with its violence and a sex scene alluding to rodeo riding, it's an interesting movie. The writing is good, and Christian Bale is great in the role of young upwardly mobile urban sociopath.