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American Psycho

Reviewed By Chris Parry
Posted 06/21/00 23:55:20

"Never before has Huey Lewis been so deeply analysed."
4 stars (Worth A Look)

It could so easily have gone wrong. Adapted from a book that set new highs (or lows, depending on your psychological profile) in blood, guts and gore, American Psycho could have ended up a cartoonish action thriller that glorified violence and torture. It could have been camp, it could have been slapstick or a horror movie. Instead, director Mary Harron and writer Guinevere Turner have identified the underlying themes of narcissism and self-loathing prevalent in the book (and the 80's) and dragged them kicking and screaming out into the open where they can be poked with pointy sticks.

Over 500 pages of a book, a writer can take a reader on a two week journey. You read and read and there's really no limit to what can be portrayed with in your own head. A feature film, however, doesn't have time to dilly dally in the details. You've got two hours (three if you're special) to hit all the important elements of the story, get to the point, sparky! And as much as the book version of American Psycho has outraged thousands and been vilified by moralists as the devil in book form, it does have an underlying theme. If you're capable, you're supposed to read past the goo and find the ideas behind it. The makers of this film have centred on those themes sensibly and efficiently and, in the process, manage to create a gripping satire on the greed of the 80's.

In layman's terms, it's not as gory as it could have been, but buggered if you really care.

Patrick Bateman is a nasty piece of work. With money to burn and power beyond the reach of all but those born into it, Bateman is bored. He's totally unable to get into life. That is, until he starts taking the lives of others. A sledgehammer to the head here, a gun to the head there, it's a new thrill, ultimate power, no sport like a blood sport, woohoo!

What causes Bateman's malaise? Well, it's life in the 80's. Wealth is power, power is life. Throw on Susudio, punt the Rubik's Cube off the balcony and rip the chainsaw into action.
American Psycho is a funny flick. Not so funny in a "haha" way, more funny in an "I can't believe he's a Huey Lewis fan" way. It's satire, and good satire. A world where the texture of a man's business card means more than the depth of his intellect.
It's far from perfect. While lead actor Christian Bale sears in the role of the psychotic Bateman, at times things shift too far into surrealism to keep the theme going. The ending of the film suffers greatly from this malaise, but in reality there is no ending to such a film. It's not about the story, it's about an idea.

If your friends watch reality TV, don't take them to this. They won't get it. If you consider yourself a thinker and someone who can look past a splatter of red and see the forest behind the trees, give American Psycho a try. There's a thinker behind the stinker.

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