RJ Bayley Reviews: American Psycho


Director Mary Harron’s American Psycho is a complete clash of contradictions. Taking a look at its major elements you’d be forgiven for assuming this film would be a chronic case of style over substance (not that there’s anything wrong with that when the style is supposed to be the substance – see Razorback): something probably by a young director whose primary inspiration is Quentin Tarantino, Wall Street and Fight Club. And yet actually watching the film would be a good lesson about the fallibility of surface assumptions.

Here, as expected are numerous apparently incompatible elements of pop and actual culture thrown together. We get fairly explicit and definitely weird sex scenes next door to disturbing violence carried out by a lunatic, mixed into a period piece about 80s Wall Street yuppies and soundtracked by Huey Lewis and Whitney Houston. And yet this isn’t a shallow piece of work all because its expertly seen through the eyes of the psycho himself, Patrick Bateman played by the always brilliant Christian Bale.

Having the events seen through the mind of a man so clearly losing his grip on reality means these strong and vivid motifs and styles excellently convey the psyche of a man who views the world in shattered, separate parts. Its wonderful directing from Harron, as she mixes up her own styles and aesthetics to deliver a world where such contrasting elements cannot possibly exist as one whole, and yet defiantly do so.

Bale is very convincing as the disturbed Bateman, bringing such mania and psychotic glee He delivers an iconic performance as Bateman, best typified by his now also iconic moonwalk plastic-coat axe murder.

A modern classic.


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