‘ … no introduction necessary’
American Psycho is a 2000 American-Canadian black comedy psychological thriller-horror film co-written and directed by Mary Harron (The Moth Diaries), based on Bret Easton Ellis’s 1991 novel of the same name.
Producer Edward R. Pressman (Sisters; Phantom of the Paradise; The Hand) purchased the film rights to the novel in 1992. Johnny Depp expressing an interest in the lead role. After discussions with Stuart Gordon and David Cronenberg fell through, Harron was brought on to direct and cast Christian Bale in the lead role.
Lionsgate acquired worldwide distribution in 1997 and temporarily replaced Harron and Bale with Oliver Stone as director and Leonardo DiCaprio portraying Patrick Bateman. DiCaprio left in favour of The Beach and Harron and Bale were brought back.
As Harron began production, the crew had to contend with threats of protest, as the issue of violence in the media became crystallised by the Columbine shootings. Campaigns against the film continued throughout production, the Feminist Majority Foundation condemning the film as “misogynist,” and the Canadians Concerned About Violence in Entertainment (C-CAVE) convincing restaurant owners to deny Harron permission to film in their establishments.
The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) gave the film an NC-17 rating for a sex scene featuring Bateman having a threesome with two prostitutes. The producers excised approximately 18 seconds of footage to obtain an R-rated version of the film.
American Psycho was released theatrically on April 14, 2000. The film received generally positive reviews and was a financial success, with critics mainly praising the screenplay and Christian Bale’s performance.
The film has now achieved cult status, any initial controversy surrounding it giving way to an appreciation of the film’s satirical qualities.
A direct-to-video sequel, American Psycho 2, directed by Morgan J. Freeman and starring Mila Kunis, was released in 2002.
Patrick Bateman is a wealthy investment banker living in Manhattan in the late 1980s. His life revolves around dining at trendy restaurants while keeping up appearances for his fiancée, Evelyn, and for his circle of wealthy and shallow associates, most of whom he dislikes.
Bateman and his associates flaunt their business cards in a display of vanity. Enraged by the superiority of coworker Paul Allen’s card, Bateman murders a homeless man and his dog.
At a Christmas party, Bateman makes plans to have dinner with Paul, with Paul mistaking Bateman for Marcus Halberstram. Bateman gets Paul drunk and lures him back to his apartment and murders him with an axe…
“As brilliantly as the movie’s visual style evokes a world spat out by a Vanity Fair art director, American Psycho remains a one-joke satire of materialism and soullessness.” Stephen Holden, The New York Times
“All of the murders are equally real or unreal, and that isn’t the point: The function of the murders is to make visible the frenzy of the territorial male when his will is frustrated. The movie gives shape and form to road rage, golf course rage, family abuse and some of the scarier behavior patterns of sports fans.” Roger Ebert, RogerEbert.com
” … after an hour of dissecting the ’80s culture of materialism, narcissism and greed, the movie begins to repeat itself. It becomes more grisly and surreal, but not more interesting. Conceptually, this savage cartoon ends up as trapped in surfaces as its shallow antihero: it’s all dressed up with nowhere to go.” David Ansen, Newsweek
“Harron opens wittily by equating bodily fluids with nouvelle cuisine, although nothing that follows is nearly so Swiftian. She effectively burlesques Ellis’s affectless carnage amid a mannequin-parade of product endorsements—itself a provocatively tedious riff on the high Reagan world of Wall Street and Bonfire of the Vanities—but the edge has already been blunted by the funnier, more disturbing Fight Club.” J. Hoberman, Village Voice
“At its best, the film reflects our own narcissism, and the shallow American culture it was spawned from, with piercing effectiveness. Much of the credit for this can go to director Mary Harron, whose off-kilter tendencies are a good complement to Ellis’ unique style.” Bloody Disgusting
Cast and characters:
- Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman
- Reese Witherspoon as Evelyn Williams
- Chloë Sevigny as Jean
- Justin Theroux as Timothy Bryce
- Josh Lucas as Craig McDermott
- Bill Sage as David Van Patten
- Matt Ross as Luis Carruthers
- Jared Leto as Paul Allen
- Samantha Mathis as Courtney Rawlinson
- Willem Dafoe as Detective Donald Kimball
- Cara Seymour as Christie
- Guinevere Turner as Elizabeth
- Krista Sutton as Sabrina
- Reg E. Cathey as Al
- Catherine Black as Vanden
- Anthony Lemke as Marcus Halberstram
- Stephen Bogaert as Harold Carnes