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USA 2000
Directed by
Mary Harron
102 minutes
Rated R

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars

American Psycho

Mary Harron's American Psycho appears to be about a deranged serial killer but plays like a comedy. In some quarters this incongruity will give the film cult cachet (Harron directed I Shot Andy Warhol so it’s a pretty safe bet this is her demographic) whilst to most others it will simply be a miscegenation

Written by Harron with Guinevere Turner the source is Bret Easton Ellis' novel about a Wall Street broker, Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale), with an all-consuming compulsion to murder indiscriminately. Don’t expect a thriller, however. The film is rather a bitter satire of Reagan’s America with Bateman its bloody figure-head.  As he says in his intermittent voice-over: "I have all the characteristics of a human being but not one discernible emotion except greed and disgust". 

Events unfold with cartoonish glee and although the narrative ultimately recoups itself by putting the horror in Bateman’s head, the preoccupation with graphic violence will limit the film’s appeal .  Mike Leigh did much the same kind of hatchet job on Thatcher’s Britain with Naked but without splattering the red stuff and with a credible psychological portrait of its protagonist at its core. Whether or not this film works for you or not will depending on which side of the Atlantic your sensibilities lie.

FYI:  There was a sequel American Psycho II: All American Girl which had nothing in common with the original except the title.




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