Christian Bale in American Psycho (2000)

Murders & Executions

Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) is a wealthy New York investment banking executive working at daddy's firm because he likes to be one of the boys, not that he needs to as money isn't his thing. His thing? Well he has various things from watching porn to getting excited over business cards and doing drugs but he also has another thing a pleasure for controlling and murdering people. But it is a thing which becomes increasingly controlling as at night when he isn't working or dining in a fancy restaurant he becomes a psychopath.

I guess you had to be there or as that translates in the movie world; I guess you had to see it when it first came out. That is how I feel about "American Psycho" because watching it for the first time more than a decade after it was released I am bemused by why this movie is so popular and held in such high regard by so many. Maybe it is a cultural thing; maybe you needed to be an American to appreciate this dark satire. I don't know what it is but having watched "American Psycho" three times trying to find out what is so great I just can't see it.

So maybe the shock factor of "American Psycho" is no longer shocking; when Bateman not only kills a man but then stamps his dog to death strangely isn't that shocking although you feel more sympathy when you hear the howl of a dog rather than the man taking a knife to a gut. It is the same later on when in an intentional over the top manner he kills a man with what is the shiniest axe head I have ever seen. But it doesn't shock when watched now and it isn't amusing either when the blood splatters although Christian Bale dancing in an opaque rain coat is quirky enough to make you smile.

But beyond the extremeness of "America Psycho" from the violence to the characters I don't get it which is why I wonder whether it is an American thing. I wonder whether the over top profiling of the stock broker culture of the 80s has more of a connection with an American audience as it didn't do it for me.

That leaves just the performances and in fairness Christian Bale delivers from start to finish with a genuinely full on performance. But it is a performance which is memorable purely because it along with the movie is so over the top.

What this all boils down to is that "American Psycho" is one of those movies which I don't see what the fuss is about and put it down to either being a cultural thing or a need to have watched it back when it was released.