Ian Crow’s Film Masterclass #7 – American Psycho (2000)

Brett Easton Ellis is one of the most controversial and fanatic about detail. That is evident in his book American Psycho, easily one of the best books I have ever read and that was down to interesting characters, dialogue and description of Patrick Bateman’s world and his views. Straight off the bat, a film adaptation was proving to be a tricky one. Multiple actors had been linked with the lead role, including Leonardo DiCaprio, but after his agent thought it would ruin his image to teen girls after his take in Titanic, he pulled out. In comes British actor, Christian Bale. Appearing in Steven Spielberg’s Empire of the Sun when he was a kid, Bale was on the cusp of becoming of the best actors in the world. Starring as crazed psychopath Patrick Bateman, Bale brings to life easily one of the most interesting roles to ever hit the big screen. Enjoying the life of being a successful Wall Street banker, Patrick Bateman has it all. An attractive girlfriend, an apartment right in New York City, wealth, friends, a ripped physique and an extreme lust for murder.

Bateman isn’t all he’s cracked up to be, by day he continues his rigorous exercise routine and attending work. His desire is to be the best at his work and have all the bragging rights. But he is becoming sick of the world and wants to rid of some of the people in it. The film and book are memorable for its gruesome and psychotic murders on-screen and on page. If it’s swinging an axe into someone, he is throwing a chainsaw at hookers down a long spiral staircase. All in-between the murder, we sit back in awe of Christian Bale’s star turning and unforgettable performance as Bateman. The British actor was almost born for the role and personally, gives his career best performance and unfortunately missed out on an academy award nomination. His standout scene in the film personally is towards the end of the film. He has gone on a murderous rampage and is firing his gun at police in the street and causing chaos. In his stampede of murders, he ends up in an apartment building and begins to call his lawyer. Slouched against a desk hiding from the lights of a Police helicopter, he begins to confess the murders he has committed. Christian Bale’s acting in this scene alone is phenomenal. Going from a crazed state of ecstasy to breaking down into tears within a matter of seconds really show Bale’s talent as an actor. I would even go as far to say that this has to be one of my all-time favourite scenes by an actor, ever.

I read the book way after I had watched the film and was shocked to see how different it was. The whole layout and structure was shockingly different. But I had to admit, adapting the book onto screen completely would have been impossible. What Mary Herron did with the screenplay was marvellous. She took all the strongest parts and completely re-shifted the film to make it work on the big screen. The one thing she did make sure of was to still keep Patrick Bateman as interesting as he is in the book. It’s incredible to think that director Mary Herron has only made two films since then. Unfortunately, American Psycho kind of killed her career, but that one great film she has made will live on forever. If it’s not for Bale’s performance, it’s the 80’s inspired soundtrack, or more so of Patrick Bateman’s personal playlist.

American Psycho will forever hold a place in my heart. It’s a film that gets more interesting every time you watch it. I almost seem to find something new on every viewing. And forever, I will debate in my mind on every watch whether Patrick Bateman is really a crazed murderer that seems to get away with it, or is it all in his head? The one thing I will never have to debate over is if I love this film. That conclusion is a quick one, I absolutely adore this film and will forever be one of my all time favourites.

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