Sunday, September 21, 2014

Overlooked Film of the Week- "American Psycho" (2000)

Overlooked Film of the Week- #75
 
American Psycho
Someday, I'd love to discuss the thought process with Christopher Nolan on why he decided to hire Christian Bale for Batman. I know he wasn't the only actor in the running, and I know Bale had been acting prior to Batman since he was a kid. Yet, Bale has had such a strange career before he put on the nipple-less Batsuit that I wonder what Nolan saw in him. I'd say Bale was more suited for The Joker over Batman. Nonetheless, Bale became Batman five years after he played Patrick Bateman in "American Psycho," a disgusting thriller about a Wall Street yuppie who has some pretty blasphemous hobbies when he's not at work.
 

Christian Bale's Bateman narrates this tale has he leads us through a world of overused wealth and power. We see Bateman at work, but never doing any work. Appearance and look are all that drive him, not family or friends, but appearance and wealth. Bateman is freakishly sociopathic, willing to use and discard relationships as he pleases. On the contrary, he loves and has a deep knowledge of 1980's pop songs, as the movie takes place in the late 1980's. Oh, and he also happens to have an addiction to killing people at night.
 
I would definitely qualify "American Psycho" as a horror film. It is quick and pretty sad when people die. There is nothing stylized about it, there is nothing exciting or thrilling about it. When people die in the film, it is very matter-of-fact, which makes the violence onscreen very effective. This is not the typical slasher movie, where people are not looking as a silent killer sneaks up on them while spooky music plays. Bateman discusses incredibly normal topics before killing, and he does so with enthusiastic glee. The film was directed by Mary Harron. Yep, you read that right, Mary Harron. It shocks a lot of people that "American Psycho" was directed by a woman. Not to sound stereotypical, but it was shocking to see a woman make something so deranged, so disturbing, so crude and make every moment in the film absolutely flinching. Harron takes this material all-the-way, never looking back, never making anything by half-measures.
 
What makes the movie so addictive is the performance by Bale. If Bale was not good in this movie, the movie just plain would not work. There were people like Leonardo DiCaprio and Ewan McGregor considered for this role before Bale, but Bale as Patrick Bateman falls in the same category with Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, Mickey Rourke as Marv and Javier Bardem as Anton Chigurh as actors who collided with material in the most perfect of ways. I cannot picture any other actor in this role, and I never want to see this movie remade by anybody, ever. Add a supporting cast that includes Reese Witherspoon, Josh Lucas, Justin Theroux, Chloe Sevigny, Willem Dafoe, Jared Leto and Bill Sage, and you've got a thriller worth making.
 
There are not too many slasher movies, that mix humor with horror, but "American Psycho" features both in spades. One thing that throws audiences off is the ending. Some people hate the big reveal at the end, while others truly detest it. I can say that the film's ending is contextually sound, and if you pay close attention throughout the entire film, you can see clues to this ending throughout the film. "American Psycho" might be the perfect cup of mayhem tea as the Halloween season begins to settle in.

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