Bret Easton Ellis' much maligned ultra-violent tome about a serial killer entrenched in 80's excess has been whittled a tiny bit and presented as one of the most unflinchingly honest, violent, sexually charged and downright hilarious films of the last decade.
Director Mary Harron deserves some special award for taking a book that most thought unfilmable and injecting enough me-decade nostalgia and humour into Ellis' bleak tale to be able to give us a virtually unfiltered version of the actual book! The most extreme elements are,of course, absent, but we do get allusions to their occurences and the stuff that actually propels the plot is here in all it's unseamly glory.
Patrick Batemen (Bale in an Oscar worthy performance) is the epitome of the 80's success story: Handsome, young, wealthy, and shooting up the corporate ladder at a break-neck pace. He eats $500 dollar lunches, lives in an apartment the size of most people's homes, and has the nicest business cards in the office. Well, the second nicest.
The only thing that separates Batemen from his peers is his rather obsessive need to kill people, but that isn't what bothers him. It's the fact that no one seems to notice, or care. Batemen, like so many suit and tie corporate types, is virtually invisible. He blends in with his surroundings so well that all of his attempts to get noticed, including running naked through the halls with a chainsaw, fail to get him the individuality he so desperatley craves.
The DVD from Lionsgate features the uncut/unrated version of the film, but those who have seen the R-rated version will be hard-pressed to see the difference. There's a scant extra moment of a menage au trois, and a little more gore, but nothing that shouldn't have merited an R in the first place.
The extras on the disc are the usual stuff, along with a nice interview with Christian Bale that, when viewed after the film, will make you see why I find his performance so mind blowingly good. There is also a short making-of featurette that touches upon the way that the book was brought to film without losing too much of what made Ellis' story so effective. It's a nice finishing touch, but a commentary by Harron was what I was hoping for.
The film is also available in it's R rated form, with the same extras, which, at least to me, seems like a pointless waste of plastic. The unrated cut is not much more intense than the R rated version, unless nudity isn't your thing.
American Psycho is a modern classic, starring one of the best actors of his generation in top form, and faithful enough to Ellis' novel to please fans but smart enough to avoid some of the book's rampant excesses as to not alienate casual audiences. It's a funny, shocking, and thorougly entertaining film, and definitely worthy of a spot in your collection.