Movie Review | American Psycho
Plot Summary: A wealthy New York investment banking executive, Patrick Bateman, hides his alternate psychopathic ego from his co-workers and friends as he delves deeper into his violent, hedonistic fantasies. (IMDb)
This review marks the second time I’ve watched American Psycho now, and it’s depressing to say that it was more disturbing than the first time. Mainly because the world seems to have gone to hell between watches and Patrick Bateman – Christian Bale giving a magnificently unsettling performance – seems a little too familiar for comfort.
Just think: he idolises Donald Trump and his lifestyle; he thrives off nepotism and does no work that we ever see, instead spending his time watching TV and listening to music; he’s misogynistic, verbally and physically abusing women before butchering them; and he’s disgusted by the poor.
If this doesn’t perfectly describe a MAGA-type, or other modern-day American Republican, what does? He has his own little bubble in which he lives and expects the world to conform to his twisted desires, growing psychotically jealous whenever someone has something he doesn’t.
This isn’t a spoiler as this is only my reading of the film, but I would say that the film never confirms for certain that Bateman actually killed anyone, with several scenes that are clearly – to me -murderous delusions, but he at least wishes he could do the things we see throughout the course of the film and there are probably many men today (especially in Trump’s America) who would empathise with him.
Looking into the background of this movie’s production, it had difficulty being made at the time (released in 2000) and I honestly think there’s no way at all that it would get made today. I would hope that no studio would want to make a film that so perfectly encapsulates everything wrong with modern masculinity even if the setting might be 1987.
Credit has to go to Christian Bale though, for so convincingly portraying Bateman as a murderous lunatic who might conceivably exist. It’s genuinely easy to see why this film was his true breakout role resulting in bigger roles soon after. Bateman is unsettling throughout and Bale’s greatest gift is constantly reminding the audience that his character is a psychopath while never crossing a line into ridicule.
It might seem like a small thing to praise, especially as Bateman can act very extravagantly at times, but a lesser actor could have gone too far in either direction by being either too emotional or too robotic; Bale – appropriately – walks that razor’s edge to perfection.
It’s also funny to see how so many of the characters in this film mistake each other for someone else because so many of them look and sound alike that they can’t keep track of who’s who. Again, this seems very familiar to today with everyone continuing to follow fads and trends whenever and wherever they crop up.
Just think of the many pictures we see come out of Trump’s White House with him surrounded by groups of nearly-identical old white men. Or the groups of fascists and Nazis (calling them ‘alt-right’ grants them far greater respect than they deserve) who are generally middle/upper class white men who are practically indistinguishable from each other. Modern day American Psychos to a man boy.
American Psycho is a deeply disturbing film that, incredibly, seems more relevant than ever with Patrick Bateman the embodiment of everything wrong with men today. Bale’s performance is incredible, yet the movie does make you wonder how many men would idolise his character today.