Wednesday, 5 October 2011

"American Psycho" (Film Review)
American Psycho (2000)
Dir: Mary Harron

Shortly after having read the Bret Easton Ellis novel I watched the Mary Harron film of "American Psycho".

Comparatively I thought there were strengths and weaknesses to both versions. What was done well in one, was done poorly in the other and ice versa. Overall, I am not sure which version I favor as they are both quite flawed. However to review the film we must completely judge it on its own terms and therefore forget everything about the book.

For starters, Christian Bale was fantastic. He completely owns the role. When discussing a hypothetical cast for a hypothetical remake, we were hard pressed to think of anyone else. (Although, if I were to remake it and was allowed to cast whomever I wanted I was tossing up between, in all seriousness, Zach Efron and Robert Pattinson. Both aren't the worst of actors, they look the part and the acting abilities that they lack will work toward the 'plastic' and 'artificial' world that Patrick Bateman inhabits. But I digress).

The second scene, in the nightclub, is when Patrick Bateman first shows signs of his insanity. This was a particularly poor scene. There was not enough of a build up for this 'confession' to have any real impact. He calls a rude waitress "ugly" and ells her how he would like to kill her. This could just be an overreaction of a man who has had a bad day, so they audience don't make that much of it. The idea, I presume,
was to build up the tension until it breaks at with the first kill. This would have been more effective if the idea of violence was not slipped in so nonchalantly. He speaks to the waitress in a way that many people speak when angry. Empty hyperbolic threats of violence. If she was not rude to him and he still told her that he wanted to kill her graphically then the tone of the film would have altered.
The scene with his morning ritual was a stand out, and perhaps the strongest scene in the film. The camera work is so precise, and the voice over is such, that the implication is that he does this every single day without the smallest change. (In the novel he is describing what he did that specific morning).

The incorporation of the Genesis, Huey Lewis and the News and Whitney Huston reviews into the scenes of sex and violence was another inspired choice. Adding an extra insanity to what could well be a sick fantasy.

The violence is far more toned down in the film. Tonally this is consistent. He does not, in the film, constantly evaluate what people are wearing or go into fine, mundane detail about everything an
d anything. The film is quite consistent yet it felt rushed and at 95 minutes it could have done with an extra 20 perhaps.

Top 5 Things About "American Psycho"
5. Jared Leto's fate.
4. Set design.
3. "Feed me a stray cat".
2. Business cards.
1. It's hip to be square.


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