American Psycho
**.5 GM
Starring: Christian Bale, Willem Dafoe, Samantha Mathis, Jared Leto, Chloe Sevigny, Reese Witherspoon


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Once again, I'm not sure what to make of this film.

Here's the story - Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) is an upwardly mobile asshole with an ideal late-1980s life that moonlights as a serial killer. He gets away with everything despite his increasingly reckless and frequent bloodbaths, because no one would suspect a haughty rich businessman of such things. Then maybe it all never really happened.

It is a pretty disturbing film in some aspects - the obvious bloodbath scenes, the general creepiness of Bateman that goes completely unnoticed by his fellow cokehead freaks, the fact that all of those assholes could be like this and no one would be the wiser. Somehow, he can get a fiancee, a mistress, friends and immense success while hanging corpses in his closet and keeping heads in the fridge. The best dark comic moments are when he's rhapsodizing about the genius of Huey Lewis & The News and Phil Collins before engaging in depravity and murder.

I assume if I'd read the book, I'd more easily understand the message being conveyed, but it seems to be about how everyone is judged by their outward appearances and how important it is to most people to maintain their images - a good image can successfully conceal anything. Some doubt is cast on whether or not Patrick actually went through with all of these grisly murders or if it was all in his head, and he's mistaken for other people so often that maybe he's supposed to be the unreal manifestation of the general sick aggression and cruelty of his lifestyle and not an actual human being. However, I have the feeling I'm missing something.

Bale does a really good job at being the complete psychotic asshole Bateman. He's got just the right amount of bothersome self-absorption and annoying speech precision to make me believe it. The final comparison of his character to Ronald Reagan is also pretty damned amusing. It's not quite as entertaining as Natural Born Killers or anything, but it has its moments. It dares to make a film about a lead character you want to be captured and even killed. The main problem I have is that it wasn't very involving to me... either he was going to get caught or he wasn't. It's more of a character study, I suppose. Not a bad thing... but just not a great thing.

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