Netflix Movie Month: "American Psycho" Review

Photo Credit: Lions Gate Films

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Rating: R
Length: 102 minutes
Release Date: April 12, 2000
Directed by: Mary Harron
Genre: Crime / Drama

"American Psycho" is the perfect mix of humor, gore, sex and insanity. Christian Bale brings the main character of Bret Easton Ellis' famous 1991 book of the same title to life in this wonderful adaptation of the work. From the first scene in a restaurant to the last, with all the murder and mayhem in between, this is a wild ride perfect for an evening in.

"American Psycho" focuses on the life of main character, Patrick Bateman, with other characters playing mostly minor roles with little development. Bateman strives to keep up appearances with his co-workers and supposed friends, and the film is good at showing just how shallow much of his life is. He gets up in the morning and works out, uses various lotions and skin care products, and other daily rituals to ensure he looks perfect. Any blemishes are attacked with his army of products, as imperfection is unacceptable.

One of the most memorable scenes of Bateman with his co-workers is the one in which the group compares business cards. Subtle differences in cards affect Bateman's shallow worldview and self-confidence so badly he begins to panic and sweat as he looks through them. These scenes that show the viewer glimpses into Bateman's lifestyle are funny in how very intense they are and how seriously the characters take them. It highlights the superficial nature of business culture in the city and provides a contrast to Bateman's secret serial killer life, as well as giving a reason for his sprees.

Bateman notably loses control after the stressful situations that prove he is not at the top of his own social ladder, such as when he learns a co-worker has a larger, better apartment or a nicer business card. This attempt to rationalize his killing is interesting, but ends up brushed aside as his murderous tendencies shift toward hookers and streetwalkers as he descends further into insanity.

Cracks in Bateman's shallow shell are more obvious as the film goes on, but they eventually led to kind of an ambiguous ending that has lead to many discussions and theories about the true events of the film. This ambiguity makes the film all the stronger and ensures it is worthy of multiple watches to attempt to catch all of the hints and clues to decide your own opinion free from the thoughts of others.

One fun theme in the movie is music. Bateman uses music to distract himself as well as to relax and as a backdrop to many of his murders. The upbeat music he typically uses is a stark contrast to the bloody, brutal, gory murders he commits, and Bale portrays the crazed, psychopathic killer perfectly. Look forward to some fun music highlighted by an ax or two as you watch the descent into madness.

Beware that there is plenty of nudity and sexual situations in this film. It serves a purpose, to highlight Bateman's uncaring nature when it comes to others and the casual way he views sex even when he is supposed to be in a committed relationship with his fiancée. His internal commentary on his personal relationships with lovers is amusing and turns what could be a sensual moment into one of cocky absurdity and humor.

Fans of dark humor, insane characters and a little social commentary are sure to love this movie. Gore is a central focus that draws in the crime and horror fans, and the relationships between characters interests any who like drama. The many facets of the film bring together fans of a lot of genres and crosses hard genre lines to make sure it is enjoyed by a large population of people.

This film hits all the right notes, bringing cringes, laughs and deep thought in turns all through the story. Christian Bale is at the top of his game and is perfect for the main role. Appearances from other talented, familiar faces, such as Jared Leto, Reese Witherspoon and Willem Dafoe, sprinkle great characters and acting through the film, as well.

For a movie night when it is impossible to pick a movie, give "American Psycho" a try. The great combination of themes and genres make it a perfect choice that is interesting for a variety of people. Do not ignore this movie because of a bit of cheese. Instead, give it a chance and take in the look at the strange life of Patrick Bateman. This engaging cult classic is a fun ride through business life, relationships and good music.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5