American Psycho had been on my watch list for quite a while. About a week ago I finally had the opportunity to see it.
Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) is a young and very wealthy man who is working on Wall Street. He seems to have everything going for him. However, underneath this mask lies a dark and intense need to kill people for absolutely no reason.
The first time that I saw this movie, I didn’t quite understand the ending until I watched it a second time. But even at that, I found American Psycho kind of fascinating, while at the same time wondering what exactly it was supposed to be about.
When we talked about it in class, there was mention of it being satirical towards Wall Street and focusing on themes of greed, vanity, and materialism, which aren’t just limited to the character of Patrick Bateman. We see Bateman and his friends comparing business cards in an “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours” kind of way; his fiancé is all about appearance it seems; and if Bateman’s whole apartment/life/attitude doesn’t scream out materialistic, vain, misogynistic bastard then I don’t know what does.
The outward appearance of other’s is also a relevant theme. Bateman is trying to fit into a world where virtually everyone is the same. It seems like he is always trying to find meaning in things that have no meaning, like his constant critiquing of songs and music that are completely mindless. (WARNING: The scene below is graphic! If you’re not into that, don’t watch)
Going off of the fact that everyone is basically pretty much the same in his society, Bateman has no sense of identity. Keep this idea in mind when you watch the film and notice that from the very beginning of the movie, everybody is always mistaking certain characters for other people. Even at the end of the movie, Bateman is mistaken as someone else by his own lawyer.
To me, the character of Patrick Bateman is probably one of the most disturbing I’ve ever encountered. I automatically disliked him before he started his killing spree. However I find it interesting that because of the fact that he lives in this society that is so conformed and petty, he has no sense of self; because of this he creates a monstrous alter ego where he is a raging psycho who kills other people just for the hell of it. He is sick. And disturbing. And what makes Patrick Bateman even more frightening is the fact that at the end of the movie, you as a viewer (as well as Bateman himself, it seems) don’t know whether or not he killed anybody or if it was all in his head.
American Psycho is definitely worth a watch. Christian Bale did an excellent job at portraying the monster that is Patrick Bateman. It’s a movie that will shock you, disturb you, and leave you thinking in the end.